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MOULAVI ABDUL KARIM 



LIFE 

OF 

MAULAVI ABDUL KARIM 



BY 
MD. ALI AZAM, B.A. 

(Editor of the Mujahid). 



CALCUTTA, 
1939. 



Price Rupee One. 



Published by : 

MD. Aw AZAM, 

25, Dharamtola Street, 

Calcutta. 



All jights reserved. 



Printer : P. C. RAY, 

SRI GOURANGA PRESS, 

5, Chintamoni Das Lane* 
Calcutta. 



PREFACE. 

For about a quarter of a century, ever since Maulavi 
Abdul Karim made his munificent public endowment, 
there has been a demand for his biography. In 1919, at 
the annual meeting of the Sylhet Muslim Students' 
Association, an announcement was made that a gold 
medal would be awarded for the best essay on Maulavi 
Abdul Karim's life. Some time after that, the Muslim 
head master of a high English school in Sylhet, secured 
some materials and began to write the biography. 
Unfortunately he died all of a sudden, and what he had 
compiled, with the materials he had collected, was lost. 
Since then Maulavi Abdul Karim has been approached, 
from time to time, by different persons for materials for 
his life, but nothing had materialised up to this time. 
I need hardly say that I am very thankful to him for 
kindly , supplying me with the required materials that 
are available. 

Maulavi Abdul Karim 's is a household name in 
Bengal. There is hardly any educated person in this 
province, and perhaps in any province in India, who does 
not know Maulavi Abdul Karim as a veteran educationist, 
a reputed author and a sound political thinker. But many 
people do not know all that he has done for the people of 
Bengal, particularly for the Muslims. I think it is desir- 
able that his biography should be published so that the 
younger generation may draw inspiration from his noble 
life. 



IV 



I cannot say how far I have succeeded in properly 
portraying a life that is so very useful, eventful and 
interesting. As far as I am aware modern Bengal" has 
not produced another Muslim who has rendered better 
service to his community. By his munificent endowment 
of rupees fifty thousand for Islamic work and poor 
Muslim students, he has laid his co-religionists under a 
deep obligation. By his literary, journalistic and plat- 
form work on Islam and its Holy Prophet, he has 
rendered a signal service to the cause of his religion. 
By his unexampled activities as a special educational 
officer, as well as by his unprecedented exertions to 
adjust all inequalities and differences, he has done in- 
calculable good to the community and the country. 

It can hardly be realised now by the younger gene- 
ration what the educational condition of the Musalmans 
of Bengal half a century ago was, before M. Abdul 
Karim was appointed a special officer, and what undreamt- 
of improvement he effected in a quarter of a century 
during which he whole-heartedly worked for the com- 
munity. Before his appointment there was not, irp many 
of the districts in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, even a single 
Muhammadan Deputy or Sub-Inspector of Schools or a 
single Muhammadan Government School teacher. As 
stated in Chapter VII. of this book, it was due to Maulavi 
Abdul Karim 's strong representations to Government that 
so many Muhammadan inspecting officers and school 
masters, now found in different districts of Bengal and 
B5iar, were appointed and funds were provided for the 
appointment of Persian and Arabic teachers as well as 
for aiding poor Muhammadan students. There were and 
are other special officers for Muhammadan Education, but 



we are not aware what special work, besides their routine 
duties, they have done for the furtherance of education 
in their community. In fact the great progress made 
by the Musalmans of Bengal in education and politics, 
during the last half a century, was mainly due to the steps 
taken by this great benefactor of the community. Would 
there have been such political awakening of the Muslims- 
of Bengal but for the education they got through his 
never-to-be-forgotten efforts? From the numerous 
speeches he delivered and the "Notes' 1 he wrote (some 
of which will be found in Chapter VIII. of Part II. of this 
book) the younger generation will learn many things 
worth knowing. 

It is to be deeply regretted that the inestimable 
services and unexampled generosity of Maulavi Abdul 
Karim have not been adequately recognised either by the 
community or the Government. Had he been a member 
of the sister community, I am certain, his "Jayanti" 
would have been celebrated long ago. But this is perhaps 
too much to expect of a community that does not care to 
celebrate even the death anniversary of a Salimullah or 
an Amir Ali. I think if Maulavi Abdul Karim was born 
in any other province, such as the Punjab, his work would 
have been well-appreciated ; this might have served as an 
incentive to further work. 

It may be said to be Bengal's misfortune that the 
collaboration of such a veteran educationist could not be 
utilised for the educational reform and reorganisation in 
the province under the Reform Scheme of AdminirAa- 
tion, although since his retirement from service he has 
all along been in public life, has taken part in all public 
movements for the good of the community and the 



VI 



country, and was a most active and useful member of the 
Legislative Council for about a decade. He was some- 
times heard to say that it is not altogether impossible to 
make primary education free and compulsory without 
taxation. With his vast experience and deep insight in 
the subject, it is more than likely that he might have 
had in his head some workable scheme, which others 
could not yet think of, for the extension and reorientation 
of the educational system. All the Education Ministers 
in Bengal have been lawyers, who had hardly anything to 
do with the subject of Education throughout their careers. 
It is no wonder, therefore, that they did not succeed in 
carrying out any scheme for the reorganisation of Educa- 
tion in Bengal. For, by the time they learnt something 
of their work, they had to leave their posts. They 
might have requisitioned the co-operation of experienced 
educationists. But they do not seem to have done so, 
perhaps for fear of bringing a slur on lawyers' 
"subjantaism". 

When there was a talk about Maulavi Abdul Karim 
being included in the cabinet, a gentleman remarked "he 
is too old." Thereupon one of the hearers said "All 
depends upon the retention of mental powers ; while one 
is incapacitated at 56, another is not so even at 86. If 
Hindenburg could be President of Germany while he 
was 86, there seems to be no reason why Abdul Karim 
cannot be a cabinet member, while he is not yet 76. 
By his latest literary works and political activities he has 
2te"#y proved that he still rttains the full vigour of his 
mental powers." 

We have heard with extreme regret that Maulavi 
Abdul Karim is thinking of retiring from public life within 



Vll 

a short time and passing the remaining days of his life- 
in some holy place, although he is often heard to say 
that he prefers serving humanity in accordance with 
Islamic injunction, to passing his days in prayer in a 
retired place. There is, however, nothing strange in 
what we have heard. Any one disgusted, as he seems to- 
be, with the conduct of those for whom he has done so 
much, is likely to come to no other decision. We hope 
efforts will be made to persuade him to continue his 
services to his neglected community as long as his health 
may permit. We trust that the educated young Muslims 
will emulate the noble example he is leaving behind and 
they will follow in his footsteps in serving the com- 
munity and the country. 

MD. ALI AZAM. 
Calcutta, 

March 10, 1939. 



CONTENTS. 

PART I. 
Childhood, Education and Government Service. 

CHAPTER. PACK 

I. Birth-place & Childhood .. .. .. i 

II. Education Career .. .. .. -.5 

III. Marriage .. .. .. .. 13 

IV. An Editor .. ., .. .. .. 17 

V. A vSchool Master .. .. .. .. 18 

VI. Assistant Inspector for Muhammadan Edu- 
cation .. .. .. .. .. 22 

VII. Work as a Special Officer for Muhammadan 

Education .. .. .. -.5 

VIII. An Inspector of Schools .. .. -.63 

IX. Inspection of Schools .. .. ..84 

X. Last Period of Service .. .. ..102 

PART II. 
Social and Political Service. 

I. Endowment of Rupees Fifty Thousand .. i 
II. Evidence before the Royal Commission on 

Public Services in India .. .. 9 

III. Question of Khilafat .. .. ..19 

IV. Evidence before the Calcutta University 

Commission .. .. .. ..38 

V. Entrance into Politics .. .. .. 51 

VI. Member of Council of State .. .. 61 

VII. A Member of Bengal Legislative Council .. 87 

VIII. President of Associations & Meetings .. 95 

IX. Some Letters .. .. .. .. 169 

X. An Author .. .. .. .. 190 



PART I. 
CHILDHOOD, EDUCATION & GOVERNMENT SERVICE 

CHAPTER I. 

BIRTH-PLACE AND CHILDHOOD. 

Sylhet, the capital of the Surma Valley, formerly in 
Bengal and at present in Assam, is the birth-place of 
Abdul Karim. It has a very interesting and instructive 
history. It was a Hindu kingdom from very early times, 
and there was not a single Muslim there until about 
1170 A. D.j when a man named Burhanuddin went 
and settled there. As he had no children, he made a 
vow that he would sacrifice a cow for the aqiqa ceremony 
if a son was born to him. A son was born and on his 
birth he sacrificed a cow. When it was being cut up, 
a kite took away one piece of it and dropped it near the 
palace of Gour Gobind, the orthodox Hindu Raja of 
Sylhet. On coming to know of this, Gour Gobind sent 
for Burhanuddin, and took him severely to task for kill- 
ing a cow in his Raj. He then ordered Burhanuddin to 
bring his child,and killed it when it was brought, and 
-cut off Burhanuddin's hand with which he had killed 
the cow. In order to seek redress, Burhanuddin went to 
Delhi. The king despatched an army under his nephew, 
Sikander Shah, to punish the cruel Raja Gour Gobiudfor 
the horrible atrocity he had committed on a Muslim." 

At about the same time, a renowned saint, Hazrat 
Shah Jalal Mujarrid, was on his way towards Sylhet He 



2 LIFE OF A. KABIM 

was a native of Yemen in Arabia. On the completion of 
his spiritual traiiming at Mecca, his Murshed instructed" 
him to go to India to propagate Islam and to settle at 
a place the earth of which had the same taste and' 
properties as that of Mecca. He left for India with 
twelve followers, one of whom could find out the 
quality of the earth by tasting it, und brought with 
him a handful of Mecca earth. After his arrival 
in India, while he was in search of such a place, 
he came in contact with the army under Siknndor Shah 
which was returning towards Delhi, having been 
defeated by Raja Gour Grobind. By this time Hazrat 
Shah Jalal's followers had increased in number to 
360. He persuaded Sikandor Shah to make another 
attempt ou Sylhct, offering to join the Delhi army with 
all his own followers. They return od to the attack, 
Gour Gobind was defeated, and Sylhct was taken over by 
the combined army. When Hazrat Shah Jalal entered 
Sylhet, its earth, on being examined by the expert, was 
found to be like that of Mecca. Finding that Sylhet 
was the place indicated by his Murshed, he settled there 
with all his followers, one of whom, Shaikh Khizr 
Quraishi, an Arab from Yemen, was Abdul Karim's 
ancestor, whose grave still exists in the old family 
graveyard. The descendants of Shaikh Khizr Quraishi 
were of good status and in affluent circumstances for 
a long time, and some of them held high posts under the 
Sylhwt government. When one of them, however, died 
a premature death, and left his family unprovided for 
and* his children uneducated, this section of the family 
fell into dire distress, and had to adopt humble 



BIRTH-PLACE AND CHILDHOOD 3 

professions. It took generations for some of them 
to regain their ancestral position and prestige. Many 
of the respectable Muslims of Sylhct are descendants 
of Hazrat Shah Jalal's 360 followers, who settled 
all over the district. Some respectable Hindu families, 
such as the Majumdars, were afterwards converted to 
Islam, and their descendants are included in the gentry 
of Sylhct. The graveyard of the saint, Hizrat Shah 
Jalal, is looked upon as a holy place of pilgrimage, 
which is visited every day by hundreds of people, both 
Muslims and non -Muslims. 

CHILDHOOD. 

Abdul K'irim was born on the 20th. of August, 1863 
A. D, A serious accident took place when he was only 
six months old. One day at dusk the family residence 
caught fire. A part of it collapsed and foil upon his 
father, the late M. Muhammad Nader, and severely 
burnt half of his body. In the confusion that followed 
no one thought of the child sleeping inside the burning- 
house. He, however, miraculously escaped imminent 
destruction. There was a Maina (talking-bird) in a 
cage in the burning house. Unable to bear the heat 
of the fire, it began to cry out ma ma. Thia reminded 
those who were putting out the fire of the child within 
the burning house, and some of them rushed into the house 
and rescued the child when it was on the point of being 
burnt. The survival from burns and wounds of the father 
was also miraculous. 

This accident caused the abandonment of the burnt* 
down quarters, which were situated at a distance of 



4 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

about three miles from the town of Sylhet. The family 
removed to Shaikhghat in the town and stayed for some 
years with Abdul Karim's uncle, the late M. Sanaullah, 
an enlightened gentleman, whose son, the late M. Mu- 
hammadul Haq, was the first Sylhet Muslim to receive 
English education, which enabled him to become a 
teacher of one of the first M. A/s of the Calcutta Uni- 
versity, the late Mr. Joy Gobind Shome. Thus was the 
child, Abdul Karim, accidentally placed in a very 
congenial sphere. 



CHAPTER II. 

EDUCATION CAREER. 

Before the birth of Abdul Karim, his parents had 
lost five children, one after another, four sons and a 
daughter. So it was not unnatural for them to be 
apprehensive about the new-born babe's life. They did 
not even make any particular arrangement for the 
education of the child, who was left entirely to himself. 
Intelligent and inquisitive as he was, however, he read 
the Quran at home, and learnt how to read and write 
Bengali. At the age of about seven, he expressed a 
desire to join a school, and was admitted into the Rashr 
behari M. E. School, situated to the east of Darga 
Mahalla, at that time the only school of its kind in 
Sylhefc. Sometime after, he got himself transferred to 
the Sylhet Zillah School, at that time located on the to^ 
of the Manara hill. But unfortunately before he had 
completed one year in that school, he had an attack of 
cholera, and on the death of a cousin of his of about hi& 
own age from the same disease, a rumour spread that 
he himself was dead. Hearing this, the school master 
removed his name from the school rolls. On recovery, 
however, he rejoined the school. But, sometime after, 
a severe and prolonged attack of dysentery again kept 
him away from the school for over a year. On recovery, 
he again took admission into the school, and pursued 
continuous study till he got to the first class. 



6 LIFE OF A. KABIM 

On aceount of indifferent health, Abdul Kariw 
could not work hard. Besides, he was left entirely to 
himself. When in the lower classes, he generally 
spent his time out of school hours in catching fish and 
small birds and in playing Hadu-dudn and Guli-danda. 
Generally he learnt his daily lessons on his way to 
school, which was situated at a distance of about a 
mile-and-a-half from his house. It Was only at the time 
of examinations that he sbudiel at home. The result 
was that some of his class-fellows occupied higher 
places in the class and in the examinations ; but in 
after life none of them could rise to the position to 
which he rose. By his amiability and sociable nature 
he WAS very popular with his class-fellows, and was a 
pet of his teachers, among whom ww the late Rai 
Saheb Durga Kumar Bose, one of the most successful 
Head Masters Bengal has ever produced. Among 
Abdul Karim's contemporaries in the school was the 
late renowned Sadhu, Taraki shore Chowdhury, who 
renounced the world when he Was at the height of his 
legal profession and had great prospects of getting a 
judgship of the Calcutta High Court, and among Abdul 
Karim's well-wishers was the late Hamid Bakht 
Majumdar, at that time the leader of Sylhet Muslims. 

After he had been in the; first class for some 
months, Abdul Karim thought his deficiency in Mathe- 
matics might stand in the way of his success at the 
University examination. The more he brooded over 
this the more he felt disinclined to sit for the examina- 
tion. He then stopped attending school, and gave up 
the idea of prosecuting his studied further. After he 



EDUCATION CAREER T 

Tiad absented himself from school for some time, it 
struck him that he had acted very unwisely, and that 
it would be no disgrace if he got plucked after an earn- 
est attempt to pass. So he again joined the school, and 
began to prepare for the test examination. Although 
he obtained very low marks in Mathematics, the Head 
Master, in consideration of high marks he secured in 
English and History, permitted him to sit for the Uni- 
versity examination. Fortunately he was successful, 
and was the first to pass from Sylhet with Persian as 
his second language. 

At this stago the question that had to be seriously 
considered was whether the youthful Abdul Karim 
.-should prosecute his studies further. His mother was 
most unwilling to part with him, deeply attached as 
she was to him, aftc? having lost so many children. 
Her nephew, the late M. Mahmudul Haq, however, con- 
vinced her that her son's welfare required her separa 
ttion from him. Besides, what some spiritualists, Fakeers 
and Jogis, had predicted about her son's bright future, 
also weighed with her in this matter. Therefore, with 
.-an indescribable wrench she parted from him, and for 
years passed her days shedding tears. Abdul Karim 
took leave with a heavy heart, and for some time 
there was not a morning in which the pillow 011 which 
he slept was not found wet with tears, shed in remem- 
brance of his loving mother. 

In those days there was no rail or steamer service 
from Calcutta to Sylhet ; only some steamers belonging 
to some private companies used to ply there occcsion- 
ally during the rainy season. So young Abdul Karim 



8 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

left home in a country-boat, with the late Mr. Joy 
Gobind Shome, his cousin's pupil, who was practising- 
in the Calcutta High Court. It took him about a fort- 
night to reach Goalundo, where they caught the train 
to Calcutta. Shortly after his arrival in Calcutta, Abduf 
Karim took his admission in the Presidency College, 
which, at that time, had on its staff such renowned 
Professors as Messrs Tawney, Eowe, Webb, Elliot. 
Percival, Pedler, and Booth. He also joined the debat- 
ing club in the college and gained popularity by his 
speeches in the debates. There he came into close con- 
tact with the late Sir Ashutosh Mukerjee and the late 
Sir Syed Shamsul Huda, two years senior to him, both 
of whom continued to be his fast friends until their 
death. Among his class fellows were the late Kamendra 
Sunder Trivedi and Sir Abdur Rahim. 

At this stage an incident occurred which shows how 
in those days uneducated bigots persecuted English- 
educated people. At the close of the First year F. A. 
Class, Abdul Karim went home during the college 
Vacation. Some of those who had heard him spea'k at 
public meetings, one of which was held to congratulate 
the late Sir Surendra Nath Bannerjee on his release 
from imprisonment for contempt of court, requested 
him to deliver a lecture at Sylhet. At a largely attend- 
ed meeting, presided over by Dr. Sundarimohan Das r 
he spoke on ''Ideal character/' It being a Hat day v 
some of those who were returning home from the Hat 
crowded round the hall in which the lecture was being- 
delivered. Next day a rumour was spread by some of 
9hese people that Abdul Karim had been converted to 



EDUCATION CAREER 9 

Christianity and had preached it at the meeting, and more- 
over had disclaimed his parentage, This created such a 
bad feeling that Abdul Karim had to give up passing 
by the public streets. After this he did not feel inclined 
to go to Sylhet for some time. 

His deficiency in Mathematics stood in the way of 
Abdul Karim's success in the F. A. examination of 
1883. After his failure, when he was thinking of stop- 
ping his studies and going to Africa, the University 
decided to hold a re-examination of the plucked can- 
didates on account of a radical change in the course of 
studies for the future F. A. and B. A. examinations. 
By a happy accident, Abdul Karim found that the very 
propositions of Geometry which he had committed to 
memory on the way to the examination-hall, were set 
and thereby pass-marks in Mathematics were assured. 
After the successful result of his F. A. examination was 
gazetted, he joined the B. A. class. Mathematics being 
now an optional subject for the B. A. examination, his 
drawback was removed, and he took up English, 
Philosophy and Persian. The Government of Assam 
continued the scholarship which had been granted to- 
him before. In 1885, he passed the B. A. examination ^ 
with Honours in English. He was the first Muslim, 
graduate from Sylhet, if we leave out of account a 
gentleman named Muhammad Daim, who was so long 
away from home that Sylhet people had forgotten that 
he was an inhabitant of Sylhet. The Assam Govern- 
ment -offered Abdul Karim the post of a Sub-Deputy 
Collector, which he did not accept. Never before had! 
BO many Muslims taken the B. A. degree in one year.. 



-10 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

Besides Abdul Karim, Abdur Rahim, Zahid Suhrawardi, 
Abdul Haq Abid, Ahmed, Mahmood, Zahurul Haq, Abdus 
Samad andlsrail passed the B. A. examination in 1885. 

Shortly after Abdul Karim had taken the University 
degree, Her Highness the Begum of Bhopal paid a 
visit to Calcutta. She offered a sum for medical educa- 
tion in Europe of a Muslim student. The Bhopal 
.scholarship was offered to the late Dr. Daudur 
Rahman, father of Mr. Mowludur Rahman, perhaps 
at that time the only Muslim student in the Calcutta 
Medical College. But he did not accept it as he was 
unwilling to g.) to Europe. Applications were then 
invited from Muslim students desirous of going to 
Europe for legal or other studies, and a committee of 
the Muslim Fellows of the University was appointed 
for selecting a candidate. Abdul Karim/s marriage had 
just taken place, and he was doubtful if his wife 
would agree to his going to Europe. When she gave 
her consent, he appro iched, through his venerable 
father-in- law, the members of the committee, all of 
whom promised him their support. He then went to 
Sylhct to procure the permission of his pare its. They 
not only gave him permission, but his late father ex- 
pressed his willingness to contribute what might be 
required in addition to the Begum of Bhopal's donation, 
which was likely to fall short of the total amount of 
expenditure. When his going to Europe was thus 
settled, God willed otherwise, and a queer accident up- 
set everything. 

On return from Sylhet, Abdul Karim submitted his 
application for the scholarship, and enclosed therein 



EDUCATION CAREER 11 

Copies of some testimonials. One of these purported to 
be from the late Prince Farrukh Shah, with whom his 
.maternal uncle-in-law, the late Meerza Muhammad AH, was 
very intimate. On account of indisposition, Meerza Sahib 
could not call on the Prince for the certificate, but he 
asked Abdul Karim to write out one, which he would 
later get signed. A copy of the certificate was submit- 
*ed in anticipation of getting on the original the 
signature of the Prince. But when Meerza Muhammad 
Ali called on the Prince, he told him that he being a 
Fellow of the University, was a member of the com- 
mittee, and he would have to select the candidate. 
He thought it would not bo proper to commit himself 
previously by giving a certificate, but he promised his 
.strong support to Abdul Karim. When this came to 
Abdul Karim's knowledge, he got so much upset that, 
in a huff, without consulting his well-wishers, he with- 
drew his application, for fear of the certificate being 
declared false. If he had not done so, perhaps he would 
have been advised to withdraw the certificate and not 
the application. But man proposes and God disposes. 
Who knows what would have happened if he had gone 
to Europe. It is not unlikely that if he had accepted 
Executive Service, or had become a lawyer, he would 
not have been so unselfish as to make such an endow- 
ment for the cduc .tion of his co-religionists as no other 
Bengal Muslim has done, and he would not have exerted 
himself so much as he has been doing in the later part 
of his life, for the furtherance of the cause of Islam. 
On the withdrawal of Abdul Karim's application, Abdur 
Hahim (now Sir Abdur Rahim), who was about to be 



12 LIFE OF A. KABIM 

appointed a Deputy Magistrate, was awarded the Bhopai 
scholarship. 

During his college career Abdul Karim was an 
active member of the Sylhct Union, formed in Calcutta 
by the students of Sylhet for furthering the cause of 
education in their home district and for looking after 
the interests of Sylhet students in Calcutta. Subse- 
quently he was elected its Vice-Prcsideut, which office 
he still holds. The Sylhct Union brought him into 
intimate contact with two distinguished personalities 
of Sylhet, the late Mr. Bepin Chandra Pal and 
Dr. Sui.dari Mohan Das, whose friendship > he valued 
much. He had first met them while he was a school 
student at a meeting held in the Sylhct Zilla school to 
welcome Rama Bai, the renowned Marhatta hidy on the- 
occasion of her visit to Sylhet. 



CHAPTER III. 

MARRIAGE. 

In 1885, after taking the B. A. degree, Abdul Karim 
tnarried Musimmat Ayco'ia Khatoon, a highly iutelligeut 
and Accomplished lady, daughter of the late Maulanst 
Hafez Muhammad Hatem Sahib, a renowned saint and 
savant of the time, whose birth-place was also Sylhet, 
but who had settled in Calcutta early in life. The 
relation between husband and wife was the best imagin- 
able. In fact Abdul Karim's career was moulded by 
two exceptionally pious women, his mother, the late 
Uezwaii Bibi, and his wife, Ayesha Khatoon, who, by 
a strange coincidence, possessed certain similar laudable 
-characteristics. Both were ideal house-wives, congenial 
partners, affectionate mothers and generous neighbours. 
Both of them were ever ready to serve humanity. In 
fact they had not their equal in their passion for serving 
the poor and the afflicted. The spiritual attainments 
of Abdul Karim's mother, who spared scarcely two or 
three hours daily for sleep, were beyond conception. 
Besides, her exceptional knowledge of local herbs and 
drugs made her so popular that scores of people always 
thronged at her place for medicines, blessings, and 
pecuniary assistance. Musammat Ayesha Khatoon 
was well-known in, her circle for her extraordinary 
generosity and kind-heartedness. She was inclined to 
give away her all to the deserving poor. When her hus- 



14 LIFE OF A. KAKTM 

band, in later life, expressed a desire to endow half of 
his property, worth about fifty thousand rupees, for charit- 
able and religious purposes she enquired of him, "And' 
why not the whole ?" As for the children she said, 
they had been given as good an education as that of 
their father and they should be able to shift for them- 
selves as he had done. 

She brought up her children in the most up-to-date 
method. When her three sons, Professor Abdur Rahim, 
M. A., Principal Abdul Hakim, M. A. and Interpreter 
Abdul Alim, B. A., took University degrees, perhaps 
there was not a single Muslim family in the whole of 
Bengal (including Bihar and Oriss ) and Assam, which 
had four graduates in one and the same family. Her 
youngest son, Mr. Abdur Rasul, who was not permitted 
by his medical advisers to join a college on account of 
defective eye-sight, acquired by private study and by 
extensive travelling in Europe and America such general 
attainments as are not inferior to thoso of a graduate. 
She had also some part in the bringing-up of two other 
relations, who have made their mark in after-life. They 
were her only brother, Khan Bahadur Muhammad 
Hamid, at present a member of the Public Services Com- 
mission of Bihar, Orissa and C. P., and her nephew, 
Maulavi Abdul Hamid, ex-education Minister of 
Assam, son of her husband's only brother, M. Abdul 
Qader, who was remarkable for his piety and spiritual 
progress. Having lost her first child, a daughter, in her 
early life, Musaammat Ayesha Khatoon always longed 
for * daughter. At last God blessed her with a daughter, 
her last child, a very good-natured, charitably-disposed 



MA KHI AGE i-> 

and spiritually -minded girl, married, during her 
mother's life time, to an accomplished gentleman, Mr. A.. 
S. M. Akram, an advocate of the Calcutta Kigh Court, 
at present a Judge of the Small Causes Court, Calcutta.. 

Besides rerforming her domestic duties like an ideal 
wife, Mrs. Abdul Karim discharged her public duties 
to the best of her abilities. She was the first President 
of the Anjuman-e-khawatin-c-Islam, established by her 
bosom friend, Mrs. Sakhawat Hosain, the foundress of 
the first Muslim Girls High English School in Calcutta. 
She always took an active iart in the Alowlood and 
other parties arranged by the Anjuman. On 'her death 
in 1934, at the age of (>7, after enjoying a married life 
of about half a century, the following resolution was 
passed by the Anjuman-e-khawatm-HULin, and the- 
following obituary notices were published in some of the 
newspapers. 

"This meeting of the Anjuman-c-khawatccn-c-lslam 
Bengala, places on record its deep sense of sorrow at 
the death of Mrs. Abdul Karim, the first President of the 
Anjuman and expresses its heart-felt sympathy with the 
breaved family/' 

Our heart-felt sympathy goes forth to M;iu]avi 
Abdul Karim Saheb, M. L. C., retired Inspector of 
Schools, in the sad bereavement he has sustained by the 
death of his wife, though at the old age of 67. Mrs. Abdul 
Karim was a public-spirited lady associated with some 
of the movements started to promote tho moral and 
material welfare of Muslim women. She was the first 
President of the Anjuman-e-khawateen-e-Islam, which, 
was the first organisation of educated Muslim women? 



16 LTFE OF A. KARTM 

in Calcutta, brought into existence by the late Mrs. R. S. 
Uosain. She was a pious and charitably-disposed 
woman, and, we understand, it was due to her domestic 
economy and moral co-operation that Maulavi Abdul 
Karim was able to make that well-known Wakf for 
religious and educational purposes which has benefited 
many in Bengal and Assam. May her soul rest in 
eternal peace is our fervent prayer/' 

THE MUSSALMAN. 

"The death took place at the ripe age of 67 at Ranchi 
on the 14th September of Mrs. Ayesha Khatoon, wife 
of Abdul Karim, M. L. C., retired Inspector of Schools. 
Mrs. Abdul Karim was the first Lady President of the 
Anjuman-e-khawateen, the first Society of educated Mus- 
lim ladies in Bengal, founded at Calcutta. The decea- 
sed was a daughter of the renowned saint Hafez Hatem 
Saheb of Sylhet" ( United Press.) 

The Amrita Bazar Patrika. 

The death has occurred at the age of 67 of Ayesha 
Khatoon, wife of Maulavi Abdul Karim Saheb, M. L.- 
C., a retired Inspector of Schools, and former member 
;> the Council of State. 

Mrs. Abdul Karim was the first President of the 
Muslim Ladies' Association, founded in Calcutta. 

The Statesman. 



CHAPTER IV. 

AN EDITOR 

After taking the B. A. degree, Miulvi Abdul Karim 
accepted the editorship of the " Darus-sajtanat/' at 
that time the only Urdu newspaper in Calcutta. His 
journalistic career, though short, was popular. The 
articles he wrote, on the lines of English journals, 
were well appreciated by the public. These created a 
favourable impression regarding the young journalist 
on some of the leading Muslims of Calcutta. The late 
Mr. Ameer Ali, at that time, a practising barrister, 
began to take particular interest in him. As an editor 
he Joined the deputation that waited upon Lord Ripon 
bo present an address on the repeal of the Vernacular 
Press Act. He had to resign the editorship when 
he entered Government Service. The experience 
he gained during this short period stood him in 
good stead in after-life. During this period and 
when he was a teacher, he attended the Law lectures. 
He completed the course, but he did not sit for the 
B. Li. examination, although some of those wh o knew 
his parts well, were of opinion that he would make a 
good lawyer and urged him to join the Bar. 
2 



CHAPTER V. 

A SCHOOL-MASTER. 

In 1886 Maulvi Abdul Karim was appointed a tea- 
cher in the Anglo-Persian Department of the Calcutta 
Madrasah. Within a short time he acquired the repu- 
tation of being an efficient teacher and a strict disci- 
linarian. He was exceptionally popular both with his 
pupils and his colleagues. The Principal of the Mad- 
rasah, the late Mr. Hoernle, had a high opinion of him. 
He presented him, rather earlj T in his career, in the 
Viceregal Levee, and strongly recommended him for 
promotion. The guardians of some of his pupils used 
to call on him occasionally to express their appreciation 
and gratitude for what he did for their wards. Uni- 
versal was the regret when Maulvi Abdul Karim left 
the Madrasah on promotion to the post of an Assistant 
Inspector of Schools. Some of his pet pupils, such as 
the late Mr. Hasan Imam,* Judge of the Calcutta High 
Court, the late Khan Bahadur Aminul Islam, Inspector- 

24th Feb. 1912. 
* My Dear Maulvi Saheb, 

I am much obliged to you for the congratulations 
conveyed in such affectionate terms. Old memories are 
always dear to one and old associations are naturally 
cherished by all. Thus congratulations from you natur- 
ally take me back to my school days. 

Please accept the affectionate regards of 
Your old pupil 

Syed Hasan Imam 

(Written when appointed Judge of the Calcutta- 
High Court.) 



A SCHOOL MASTER 19 

General of Registration, Mr. Ghazanfar All Khan, 
I. C. S., O. B. E., C. I. E., sometime ago a Divisional 
Commissioner in the Central Provinces, Khan Bahadur 
Abdul Momen, C. I. E., once a Divisional Commissioner 
in Bengal, and at present Commissioner of Waqfs, rose 
to some of the highest posts open at the time to the na- 
tives of the country. 

When Maulvi Abdul Karlm left the Madrasah on 
promotion, some of his pupils presented him with the 
following address : 
"SIR, 

We, the students of the 2nd class, Anglo Persian 
Department, Calcutta Madrasah, beg to take the liberty of 
addressing you the following letter of congratulation. 
Since we all, the students of Madrasah were debarred 
from giving you a public address, whilst you were amongst 
us, you being a Government servant, we the students 
of t ! ie 2nd class take this opportunity of express- 
ing our feelings with regard to you. Sir, your sincerity, 
honesty, suavity of manners and amiability endeared 
you not only to us, your pupils, but also to the general 
public. Asa teacher, Sir, you had few equals ; your 
knowledge of English, your mode of teaching and your 
love for your pupils, were more than what could be de- 
sired in a teacher. The moral lessons that you often 
tried to impress on our young minds, will remain ever 
fresh in our memory and they will serve as some of the 
guiding principles of our life. What is more, your per- 
sonal example was to us a^J>eacon for guiding us in the 
true religious and moral path. Madrasah students have 
lost in you, Sir, one of their ablest and most affectionate 



20 LIFE OF A. 

teachers. Their loss seems to be irretrievable. Our res- 
pect and esteem for you and your affection for us cannot 
be expressed in words. It was with great regret that 
we bade you good-bye, but we have this consolation 
that you have been called upon to occupy a far more 
responsible and honourable post, and that you will have 
occasions to do immense good to your community. We 
have noted with great pleasure that your appointment 
has given entire satisfaction to the Muhammedan com- 
munity of Bengal. In conclusion we pray to the Al- 
mighty God to grant you long life, sound health and 
a successful career/' 

On the strong recommendation of the late Mr. Jus- 
tice Amir Ali and the late Nawab Bahadur Abdul Latif , 
Maulavi Abdul Karim was appointed an Assistant 
Inspector of Schools for Muhammadan Education. That 
his appointment gave much satisfaction to the public 
is evident from what the Calcutta correspondent of the 
Patna Institute Gazette wrote in its issue of the 24th 
November, 1889: 

"Maulavie Abdul Karim's appointment as an Assist- 
ant Inspector of Schools has given entire satisfaction 
to the Muhammadan community of Calcutta, and I 
believe that the whole Muhamma4an community of 
Bengal will be quite satisfied with this selection, and 
will, like ourselves, heartily congratulate Maulavie Abdul 
Karim for his success, and Sir Alfred Croft for his 

selection As a man he is very good and 

amiable, as a servant he is very upright, honest an'd hard- 
working, as a teacher he was very affectionate, kind 
And sincere. His mode of teaching was, I believe, far 



A SCHOOL MASTER 21 

superior to many meritorious teachers and professors of 
many well-known schools and colleges. In him the 
Madrasah students will lose their best and ablest 
teacher, with perhaps the exception of Mr. Lorimer, the 

Head Master " 

In his twenty-fifth year, during the last year of his 
service in the Madrasah, M. Abdul Karim lost both his 
parents within five months of each other. His father 
died in March, 1889, and his mother in July of the same 
year. Unfortunately he was not present on the occa- 
sion of the death of either of them. Hearing of his 
father's illness he went to Sylhet, and attended on him 
for a month. On his getting better, M. Abdul Karim 
left Sylhet when his leave expired. But some time af- 
ter his father died. Similarly when he hoard that his 
mother was seriously ill, he hurried home, but, to his 
utmost grief, sHc breathed her last just a day before his 
arrival. 

Ho had, however, the melancholy consolation of 
meeting his patron, the late Hamid Bukht Mazumdar, 
who -was very sori nisly ill at the time. He died during 
M. Abdul Karim' s stay at Sylhet, and he attended his 
funeral ceremony. All this produced such a depressing 
effect on him that he did not feel inclined to visit Syl- 
het for about a decade, until he had to join the marriage 
of his neice to Maulavi (now Khan Bahadur) Abdur 
Rahim, whose daughter is the first woman graduate 
of Sylhet. After the celebration of the marriage, he 
delivered a lecture in Urdu on Muhammadan Education 
at a largely attended meeting, presided over by Kaja 
Girish Chandra, the philanthropic Zamindar of Sylhet. 



CHAPTER VI. 

ASSISTANT INSPECTOR FOR MUHAMMAD AN EDUCATION 

In making tho proposal for the appointment of Assist 
ant Inspectors of Schools for Muh immadan Education 
in accordance to the recommendations of the Education 
Commission, the Director of Public Instruction observed, 
"what seems to be required is the presence in every circle 
of an educated Muhammadan, able and willing to in- 
fluence his co-religionists in favour of western educa- 
tion and to watch over the interests of Muhammadan 
schools and pupils" When these officers were appoint- 
ed the following instructions were issued to them : 
"" The object with which these appointments have been 
sanctioned is the improvement of Muhammadan edu- 
cation generally in schools of every class. For this 
purpose the Assistant Inspector is required, in the first 
instance, to ascertain the special educational wants of Mu 
hammadans in his Circle, and to report them to the 
Inspector for any further orders of the Department or 
of Government that may be necessary, and, in the next 
place, to endeavour to acquire influence with those in 
authority amorg his co-religionists, in order to induce 
them to accept such changes and reforms in the sub- 
jects of education as may be pronounced to be salutary. 
. * . The difficulties that beset Muhammadan education 
are of two kinds one arising from their poverty; and 
the other from their religious prejudices. Both alike 
operate to prevent Muhammadans from taking full 



ASSISTANT INSPECTOR, M. EDUCATION 23 

Advantage of the educational facilities that exist . . 
In places where out of a large Muhammadan popula- 
tion a sufficient proportion do not attend the local 
English school, the cause .nay be that the pupils are 
too poor to pay the fees, or that the school is too poor 
vto maintain a Maulavi and give them the education 
they desire. A beginning of relief in this direction has 
now been made by the appropriation of a small sum 
from the Mohsin fund for the purpose of paying a por- 
tion of the fees of Muhammadan pupils, or of main- 
taining a Maulavi in a few selected schools frequented 
-by Muhammadans . . . The difficulties that arise from 
prejudice in favour of a particular mode and special 
subjects of instruction require different measures of 
treatment. In this class of cases the object will be gain- 
ed, if at all. not so much by expenditure of money as by 
exercise of influence. The Assistant Inspector should, 
therefore, endeavour to gain the confidence and secure 
the good-will of the leading members of the Muham- 
madan community on the one hand, of Mianjis, Maulavis 
and all who are directly engaged in teaching, on the 
other of men of position and influence whose views on 
matters of education determine the attitude of the com- 
munity at large on such questions." 
ASSISTANT INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS FOR EASTERN CIRCLE. 
In January, 1890, M. Abdul Kirim joined his new post 
at Dacca, as Assistant Inspector for Muhammadau Educa- 
tion, with jurisdiction over the whole of Dacca and 
Ohittagong Divisions, consisting of eight districts. His 
Teputation seems to have preceded him and he was 
-warmly received wherever he had occasion to go. At 



24 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

Dacca the late Nawab Sir Abdul Ghani and the late- 
Nawab Sir Ahsanullah showed him unthought-of kind- 
ness and cordiality. He was consulted by them in all 
public matters and sometimes in private affairs as well, 
as may be testified to by the oldest surviving scion of 
the family, Khwaja Atiqullah. The Commissioner of 
Dacca, the late Mr. Lutmou Johnson, and the Inspector 
of Schools, the late Rai Saheb Dinanath Sen encourag- 
ed him much by their appreciation of his work. Two 
other gentlemen of Dacca, the lato Khwaja Muhammad 
Asghar and the late Nawab Muhammad Yousuf, render- 
ed hin much assistance in his work. The former added 
to his popularity by getting him nominated as a commis- 
sioner of the Dacca Municipality, when the late Tssur 
Chunder Das was its chairman. His friends, the late 
Khan Bahadur Syed Aulad Hasan, the late ShamsuHilama 
Abul Khair Muhammad Siddiq and the Qazi brothers, 
the late Ziauddin Ahmad and Raziuddin Ahmad were of 
much help to him during his stay at Dacca. 

In Mymensingh, the late Muhammad Ali Khan Pani, 
father of the late Wajed Ali Khan Pani of Korotea, 
received M. Abdul Karim very warmly, and handed 
over to him rupees five thousand for the Dufferin 
Hostel for Muslim students at Dacca, in commemoration 
of Lord Duff erin's visit. The late Chowdhury, afterwards 
Nawab Bahadur, Nawab Ali of Dhanbari, welcomed 1 
M. Abdul Karim to his village, and gave him informa- 
tion regarding the condition of the Muslims of the loca- 
lity. In Barisal the late Maulvi Wajid Ali, father of 
Maulvi A. K. Fazlul Haq, greatly helped M. Abdul 
Karim in his work for the furtherance of education* 



ASSISTANT INSPECTOR, M. EDUCATION 25* 

among the Muslims of that district. The late Nawab 
Muazzam Hossain of Shaistabad and the late MaulvE 
Amiruddin, grand-father of Professor Humayun Kabeer, 
were also helpful to him. The latter was one of the last 
three Muslim Deputy Magistrates in Bengal who did not 
know English and did their work in Persian. The other 
two were the late Maulvi Abdul Karim of Elachipur, 
and the late Maulvi Ahmad, father of Khan Bahadur 
Abdul Karim of Comilla. The late Nawab Hussam 
Haiclar Chawdhury of Comilla was of appreciable- 
assistance to M. Abdul Karim in his special work for 
Muhammadan education in his district. He established" 
an educational institution where a large number of 
Muslim students received religious as well as secular 
education. But for the sympathy and support of these 
and other public-spirited Muslims, it might not have- 
been possible for M. Abdul Karim to achieve much 
success in his work as special officer for Muhammadaiv 
Education. 

The orthodox Muslims of Eastern Bengal were not 
in favour of the secular education imparted in Vernacu- 
lar and English schools. During Muslim rule in India, 
Persian was the language of the Court. When the 
East India Company took over the administration of 
the country, they made no change in Court language 
for some time. So the education imparted in Maktabs 
and Madrasahs adequately qualified people for Govern- 
ment service. Later on, when English and the pro- 
vincial vernaculars were made Court languages, the 
Muslims were placed at a great disadvantage. They- 
eschewed the Patshalas and schools, and continued to 



26 LIFE OF A. 

pcrsue oriental studies. The result was th at they were 
gradually replaced in service and the bar by non-Mus- 
lims. The attention of the Government was drawn to 
this, but for some timo no action was taken. By the 
time the Education Commission, appointed by Lord 
Ripon, made some specific recommendations for the educa- 
tion of Muslims, most of the Government offices were 
filled by non-Muslims, and the bar and the Zumindar's 
Kutcherries had few Muslims left. To remedy this 
deplorable state of affairs, one of the steps recommend- 
ed by the Education Commission was the appointment 
of special inspecting officers for furthering secular 
education among the Muslims. Of the first two Assis- 
tant Inspectors of schools for MuhammvJan education 
in Bengal, M. Abdul Karim was one. 

On the assumption of his office, M. Abdul Karim 
addressed a letter to the leading Muslims of Bengal, 
inviting suggestions for the spread of useful education 
among the Muslims. But the response was meagre; 
only a few gentlemen replied and their suggestions were 
not very helpful. It was very difficult to remove the 
prevailing prejudice against secular education. M. 
Abdul Karim had to work very cautiously but assiduous- 
ly. The following incident shows how tactfully he had 
to proceed, particularly when people who took pride 
in their orthodoxy had to be tackled. In the district 
of Mymcnsingh there is a place named Bowlai, where 
4omc very respectable Muslim families reside. There 
a Muslim Zamindar, well-versed in Islamic lore, had 
established a Madrasah, and equipped it with a large 
Jibrary of oriental works. When he met M. Abdul 



ASSISTANT INSPECTOR, M. EDUCATION 27 

Karim ho spoke against the education imparted in Path- 
shalas and English schools, where no religious instruc- 
tion was given. Thereupon M. Abddl Karim said it 
was very much to be regretted that he did not realise 
what incalculable injury was being done to the interests 
of the community by persuading Muslim youths to 
sschcw secular education. Those responsible for this, he 
added, would be answerable to God. This caused much 
flutter among the assembled people, who looked upon the 
Zamindar with veneration for his oriental learning. 
Seeing this, M. Abdul Karim enquired how many officers 
the Zamindar had for the management of his zamindari 
and how many of them were Muslims. The answer was 
that out of about a score of officers, only one was 
a Muslim. "Is this how you follow Islam, by excluding 
your co-religionists from your own service ? he prompt- 
ly asked. "The work of the Zamindari is carried on 
in Bengali, while the Muslims do not know sufficient 
Bengali/' was the reply. "You advise them not to learn 
Bengali, and thereby make them ineligible for service 
even, in your own zamindari not to speak of other service 
and yet vou claim to be a true Muslim," was M. Abdul 
Karim's retort. This is how M. Abdul Karim went 
about arguing with orthodox Muslims and convincing 
them of the utility of secular education. 

After he had been at Dacca for five years, a proposal 
was made for M. Abdul Karim's transfer to the Pre- 
sidency Division. Before the transfer took place, he 
met with a serious accident. While out on tour in 
Mymen singh the green budgerow in which he was tra- 
velling suddenly got upset in the Brahmaputra, and 



28 



LIFE OF A. KARIM 



floated downstream with M. Abdul Karim sitting on its* 
hull, only a little of which was above water. As he didT 
not know how to swim, his narrow escape from immi- 
nent drowning was miraculous. When the boat ap- 
proached a char in the middle of the river, he jumped 1 
on it and saved himself. The boat after floating down 
several miles struck another char, and was sunk. Seeing 
this the cultivators in the neighbourhood kept a watch, 
and the next day with great difficulty refloated it. They 
sent people in search of M. Abdul Karim, and finding 
him at the char removed him to their house, wherefrom 
he came by a dinghy to Mymensingh town, and caught 
there the train to Dacca. Never in his life had Abdul' 
Karim taken such coarse rice and unsavoury curry as 
was provided by the cultivators, and never had he 
enjoyed the break-fast so well. Misfortune never comes 
single. Before he had left for the above-mentioned 
tour, he had very narrowly escaped being crushed under 
a bamboo when the cook-shed in the house was being 
repaired. Besides, his late wife also met with an acci- 
dent at that very time. She was invited to a marriage- 
party in the Nawab of Dacca's family. When she 
boarded the palanquin that was brought to take her, its 
bottom gave way and she dropped down to the ground 
below. Although most unwilling to attend the party, 
another palanquin was brought, and she was taken to- 
the Ahsan Manzil. Misfortune followed her. While- 
stepping out of the palanquin, her ankle was severely^ 
sprained, and the pain continued for months. All this 
made the transfer welcome. The Muslims of Dacca. 



ASSISTANT INSPECTOR, M. EDUCATION 29 

gave M. Abdul Karim a grand evening party on the 
eve of his departure. 

(Xi Maulavi Abdul Karim's transfer from Dacca 
an East Bengal Muhammadan correspondent published 
the following letter, dated the 5th. April 1895, in the 
Moslem Chronicle; 

"The transfer of the Assistant Inspector of schools 
for Muhammadau education, is a very great loss to 
East Bengal. By his amiable character and suavity 
of manners, Maulvi Abdul Karim made himself very 
popular in East Bengal. He was not only liked 
but also respected by those who had occasion to come 
in contact with him. As long as he was at Dacca, there 
was scarcely a public movement affecting Muhamma- 
dan interests in which he did not take an active part. 
His advice was sought after by all classes of his co- 
religionists. By his private charity he had so endeared 
himself to the poor of Dacca, that some of them actually 
burst into tears when they heard of his transfer. 

A detailed account of what Maulvi Abdul Karim 
has done for furtherance of Muhammadan Education in 
East Bengal would require a volume. I shall very 
briefly state what I have been able to ascertain. He 
made a strong representation regarding the necessity 
of special primary schools for the Muhammadans. The 
ordinary patshalas, giving as they do only secular edu- 
catien, are not suited to the repuirements of the Muham- 
madans. They desire that religious and secular edu- 
cation of their children should go hand-in-hand. The 
existing scheme of instruction was framed with too ex* 
elusive a reference to the requirements of the Hindu 



30 UFE OF A. KARIM 

students, and the Muhammadan students have been" 
placed at a great disadvantage. Injustice is done t~> 
the Muhammadans by spending the funds which arc 
levied impartially from all classes for state education 
on a system adapted to one class. The policy of gradual- 
ly moulding the Maktabs into Patshalas has prove! 
a failure. The best solution lies in a combination of 
religious and secular education the education given 
in the Maktabs and the education given in the Pat- 
shalas. Such are the arguments which Maulvi Abdul 
Karim advance!, and thereby convinced Rir Alfred 
Croft of the necessity of encouraging and aiding the 
Maktabs, which teach Bengali in addition to the Koran 
and Muhammadan literature. Sir Alfred issued an 
excellent circular on the subject, and thus hundreds of 
Maktabs in East Bengal are now receiving aid. 

With reTard to Secondary education, Maulvi Abdul 
Karim urged with such force the necessity of including 
Urdu in the curriculum of the Middle English and Mid- 
dle Vernacular Scholarship Examination, and of ap- 
pointing Urdu teachers in middle schools, that the Di- 
rector of Public Instruction admitted the claim of the 
Muhammadans to instruction in the language which is 
a necessary part of their education, necessary for 
holding a respectable position in life, and for the per- 
formance of religious duties. 

The absence of Muhammadan teachers and inspecting 
officers is very keenly felt. Muhammadan teachers attract 
Muhammadan boys to schools. Anxious as Muhammadans 
are to have their children trained up as true Moslems, 
they are very desirous of placing them under Muham- 



ASSISTANT INSPECTOR, M. EDUCATION 31 

madau teachers, who, without giving any direct religious 
instruction, may, by way of reference and illustration, 
instil into their young minds the principles of their 
religion and usage. Muhimmadan inspecting officers 
are more in touch with the Mianjis and Moulvis, and 
they are able to give them the instruction they are in 
need of. You are aware, Mr. Editor, of the Govern- 
ment Circular on the subject, issued on Maulvi Abdul 
JCarim's representation. You will be glad to hear that 
some Muhammadan teachers have alreedy been appoint- 
ed, and the only vacancies in sub-inspectorship of 
schools, one in Tipperah and two in Mymensingh, have 
been filled up by Muhammadan candidates. I doubt 
whether in the last fifty years even one Muhammadan 
Sub-Inspector of schools was appointed in those 
districts. 

Poverty is one of the great obstacles which stand in the 
way of education of the Muhammadans. Moulvi Abdul 
Karim urged the necessity of allowing a certain number 
of Muhammadans to read free and a certain number on 
reduced fees. Dr. Martin, while officiating Director 
of Public Instruction, issued a circular sanctioning a 
certain number of free studentships and half-free stu- 
dentships for Muhammadan boys in high and middle 
schools. Thus several Muhammadan boys are now 
prosecuting their studies, who, but for these concessions, 
would never have been in any schooL 

When Persian was the court language, a large num- 
ber of officials and profesaional men were Muhammad- 
ans, who used to give free board and lodging to a large 
number of Muhammadan students. Now on account 



32 LIFE OF A. KARIM. 

of the paucity of Muhammadan officers and professional 
men, Muhammadan students are put to great difficulty 
in finding board and lodging. Want of boarding-houses 
for Muhammadan students is, therefore, very keenly 
felt. On Maulvi Abdul Karim's representation the 
Director of Public Instruction issued a circular to the 
effect that Government would contribute towards the 
cost of building boarding-houses for Muhammadan 
pupils, and the boarders would be granted capitation 
Fees. Some boarding-houses, such as those at Chitta- 
gong and Feny have already been established. Others, 
such as those at Barisal an^ Mymensingh, are likely 
to be built shortly. 

I believe you are aware, Mr. Editor, of Moulvi Abdul 
Karim's proposals for the revision of the Madrasah 
course of studies with a view to make these institu- 
tions more useful than they are at present, and for 
conferring certain privileges upon the Madrasha stu- 
dents. These are still under consideration. In the 
meantime, the Madrasah passed students have been 
granted the privilege of appearing at the Mukhtearship 
Examination. 

The Mohsin Fund is intended for the aid of poor Mu- 
bammadan students. But now not an inconsiderable por- 
tion of the Mohsin allotment for Zilla schools is spent 
in paying wholly or partly the Maulvies in those institu- 
tions. Moulvi Abdul Karim pointed out the impropriety 
of paying the Moulvies from this source when the 
Pundits are paid out of the general revenues *of the 
schools. It is hoped that before long Government 
would see its way to pay the Zillah school Moulvie 8 



ASSISTANT INSPECTOR, M. EDUCATION 33 

from the school fund, and thus set free the whole 
<of the Mohsin allotment for the aid of poor \fuhammad- 
an students. 

These are, as far as we know, some of the important 
steps taken by Moulvi Abdul Karim for the improve- 
ment of Muhammadan education. I have heard that 
he has made several other representations regarding 
other subjects, such as award of scholarships, selection 
of text-books &c., but I have not been able to ascertain 
with what result. This letter has already run a great 
length, otherwise I would have given several instances 
of what he has done for individual schools, individual 
pupils, and individual candidates for appointment. 

Thus you will see, Mr. Editor, that Moulvi Abdul 
Karkn has hardly left undealt any important subject 
connected with Muhammadan education. He has dis- 
charged his duties to the entire satisfaction of his 
community, whose best thanks are due to him. It 
is now feared that Muhammadan education in East 
Bengal would very greatly suffer by his transfer* 
East Bengal has the largest Muhammadan popula- 
tion in Bengal, and it may well claim the services 
of a special Muhammadaii inspecting officer. It is 
very desirable that Muhammadans of East Bengal 
should memorialise Government for posting perma- 
nently in East Bengal a Muhammadan Assistant 
Inspector/' 

ASSISTANT INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS, FOR MUHAMMADAN 
EDUCATION, WESTERN CIRCLE. 

Maulvi Abdul Karim's transfer to Calcutta greatly 
-enlarged the field of his activities. Ou Sir Alfred Croft's 
3 



34 LTFE OF A. KARIM 

recommendation, he was appointed a Fellow of 
Calcutta University, and as such he came in contact 
with some of the most enlightened educationists of 
Bengal, such as the late Sir Gurudas Banerji, the 
late Mr. A. M. Bose, the late Mr. P. K. Roy, the- 
late Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, the late Sir Ashutosh 
Mukherji, the late Sir Deva Prasad Sarbadhikary r 
the late Mr. Bhupendra Nath Bose, the late Dr.. 
Choonilal Bose, the late Mr. Umesh Chandra Dutt, 
the late Mr. Herambo Chandra Moitro, and he pro- 
fited much by association with them. At that time 
there were only a few Muslim Fellows, and M. 
Abdul Karim was one of the most active and useful' 
among them. Until the new University Act was 
passed, in Lord Curzon's time, he continued a Senator,- 
and then he became an Honorary Fellow for life. 

Some time after his transfer from Dacca, M. Abdul' 
Karim was elected a member of the Asiatic Society,. 
and a member of the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad, in 
the proceedings of both of which he took an active 
part. When the Chaitanya Library announced a gold f 
medal in honour of its patron, Sir John Woodburn, 
the then Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal, for the best 
essay on Akbar, the great Moghal Emperor, the com- 
mittee appointed to examine the essays pronounced 
M. Abdul Karim' s essay to be the best, and he was 
awarded the Woodburn gold medal.* This broughfr 



*CHAITANYA LIBRARY GOLD MEDAL: Sometime 
ago it was announced in the papers that the Chaitanya 
Library would offer a gold medal to be called after Sir- 



ASSISTANT INSPECTOR, M. EDUCATION 35 

him to the notice of Sir John Woodburn, who began 
to take interest in him. After going through hi* 
Urdu history of India, he expressed a good opinion 
and gave him permission to dedicate to him his 
''Students History of India" in English, which was- 
prescribed by the Calcutta University as a text 
book for the Matriculation Examination. Sir John 
Woodburn's untimely death proved most detri- mental 
to the prospects of M. Abdnl Karim. 

During his five years' stay in Calcutta M. Abdul 
Karim had jurisdiction over three Divisions, namely* 
the Presidency Division, the Chota Nagpur Division 
and the Orissa Division. In those uays there was 
no railway either to Chota Nagpur or to Orissa. 
The journey on "push-push" from Purulia to Giridih, 
via Eanchi and Hazaribagh, though tedious and 
sometimes dangerous (once the push-push in which 
M. Abdul Karim was travelling was chased by tigers) 
was very interesting. Some exceedingly beautiful 
sceneries, such as the hills of Chotupalu and the 
waterfall of Hoodrughat (perhaps the highest though 
not the largest waterfall in the world) might be seen 
on the way. The trip to Orissa via Chandbali, though 

John Woodburn for the best essay on the "Life and 
Time of Akbar" a subject that was selected by Hia 
Honour himself. Of the many essays that were written 
on the subject, that of Moulvi Abdul Karim, B. A., 
Assistant Inspector of Schools, has been pronounced to 
be the best, and the Woodburn Gold Medal will be 
awarded to him. 

The Beugaleei July 59 101. 



36 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

somewhat risky, was refreshing. The last trip that 
he took to Chota Nagpur and Orissa was partly 
done by railway, which was then being laid to both 
of these places. 

In his official work in Calcutta M. Abdul Karim 
got much support from the late Dr. Martin, who 
acted as Director of Public Instruction for sometime. 
He took much interest in Muhamrnadan education and 
some important Government orders for its furtherance 
Were passed on his strong recommendations. On Dr. 
Martin's retirement, the Muslims raised funds for his 
commemoration and had a memorial marble slab put 
up in the Senate House, and created some stipends 
for Muslim students. The late Sir Alfred Croft had 
a good opinion of M. Abdul Karim, and he always 
favourably considered his proposals. The late Rai 
Bahadur Radhika Prosaima Mukherji, and the late 
Mr. Radha Xath Roy, Inspectors of Schools, were 
very helpful to M. Abdul Karim. Outside the Depart- 
ment he received help from Mr, (afterwards Sir 
Denison) Ross, Principal, Calcutta Madrasah, and 
Mr. Slacke. Secretary to the Government of Bengal. 
Among the public who helped M. Abdul Karim in 
his work were the late Mr. Justice Syed Ameer Ali, 
the late Nawab Syed Ameer Hossain, the late Nawab 
Abdur Rahman, the late Nawab Sir Sharosul Huda, 
the late Maulavi Muhammad Yousuf, the late Mr. 
Dilawar Hossaiu Ahmad, the late Shamsul-Ulama 
Ataur Rahman, and the late Mr. Abul Hasan, founder 
of the Calcutta Muslim Orphanage. In Murshidabad 
M. Abdul Karim was very kindly and courteously 



ASSISTANT INSPECTOR M. EDUCATION 87 

received by the late Nawab Bahadur, whose kind 
hospitality he gratefully remembers. His Dcwan, the 
late Khan Bahadur Fazle Rabbi, was very helpful 
to him At Cuttack M. Abdul Karim found good 
friends in M. Muhammad Ghulam Ghaus and the 
late Mr. Hariballav Boso, leader of the Cattack Bar and 
the late Mr. Janoki Nath Bose, father of Messrs. Sarat 
Chandra Bose and Subash Chandra Bose. At Bulasore 
the late Mr. B. Dey, the then District Magistrate, 
and the late Mr. Abdus Sob ban Bhuiyan were parti- 
cularly helpful to him. 

At the close of M. Abdul Karim's term in 
Calcutta the All-India Muhammadan Educational 
conference held its animal sc^ion in Calcutta, under 
the presidency of the late Mr. Justice Ameer AIL 
As an educational officer, M. Abdul Karim naturally 
took a prominent part in its proceedings. His speeches 
made a good impression on the audience. At this 
conference he became well-acquainted with some of 
the master- minds of the time among the Muslims 
of India, such as the late Nawab Mohsin-ul-mulk, 
the late poet Altaf Hossain Hali, the late literateurs, 
Moulvi Nazeer Ahmad and Maulana Shibli Nomani, 
with some of whom he used to correspond as long as 
they were alive. It was at this conference that some of 
those Muslims, such as the late Sir All Imam, the late 
Sir Muhammad Shafi, Dr. Sir Ziauddin Ahmad and Sir 
Abdul -Kader, who afterwards came into much promi- 
nence, first made their mark. M. Abdul Karim became 
well-acquainted with all of them. 



38 LIFE OF A. KAR1M 

"MtTHAMMADAN EDUCATION IN BENGAL** 

In connection with the Calcutta session of the Mu- 
haminadaii Educational Conference Maulavi Abdul Ka- 
rim published a brochure, "Muhammadan Education 
in Bengal." The president of the conference, the late 
Mr. Amir Ali, spoke well of it, and those who had occa- 
sion to read it appreciated it. Sir Alfred Croft, the 
retired Director of Public Instruction, wrote from Eng- 
land, "Your letter of the 6th June reached me by the 
mail before last, and the following mail brought me 
your promised pamphlet. This I have read with great 
interest. The account that you give of progress al- 
ready made and your proposals for future improvement 
strike me as eminently fair and reasonable. You make 
all needful allowance, and you do not expect impossi- 
bilities. I am especially glad to find that so many 
Muhammadans have been made Deputy Inspectors. I 
hardly know whether I ought to take it as a reproach 
to myself that in my time but few of your co-reiigion- 
ists were appointed to these offices, but 1 remember it 
was a sfeau^Miig; <*fflRH/Eby wrttft. nang; I run wil$rn$* 10* hope- 
that Muhammadaii Sub-Inspectors were getting to be 
qualified for the higher appointment only about the 
time I left India. 

But it is evident that the community owes much to 
your persistent, and at the same time temperate 
advocacy. ' 

Sir Alfred Croft would have been still more 'surpris- 
ed if he had known how many more Mnhammadan 
Deputy Inspectors, Sub-Inspectors and school-masters 



ASSISTANT INSPECTOR, M. EDUCATION 39 

subsequently appointed during the following 
-decade. 

Dr. Martin, another retired Director of Public 
Instruction, under whom M. Abdul Karim had served, 
"wrote * Very many thanks for the copy of your book on 
Muhammadan education which is very full and complete 
.and will prove most useful if it stirs up your fellow- 
countrymen of the Moslem religion to endeavour to 
obtain excellence in literary pursuits. 

I am glad to hear that your time for promotion is 
drawing nigh. You are eminently deserving of the 
same if you have continued to work, since I left India, 
vrith the intelligence and assiduity which you exhibited 
-while I served as Director of Public Instruction." 

No one knows better than Sir Alfred Croft and 
Dr. Martin how M. Abdul Karim discharged his duties 
and what great service he rendered to the cause of 
Muhammadan Education in Bengal. 

The following extracts from the brochure may be 
interesting : 

."With the fall of the Muslim empire in India in 
US? A. IX the *&*** df karamg* wfefek mppfted g***fft- 
ment officials, disappeared. It was necessary, there- 
fore, to establish an institution to qualify Muslims hi 
Bengal for public service. In 1782 Warren Hastings 
laid the foundation of the Calcutta Madrasah. The 
object in view was to "promote the study of the Arabic 
and Persian languages and of Muhammadan Law, with 
a vjew more especially to the production of qualified 
officers for the Courts of Justice." For about half a 
century the successful students of the Madrasah mono* 



40 T,IFE OF A. KABIM. 

polised almost all the judicial] and executive posts under 
the Government, and they predominated at the Bar. 

When Lord William Bontick was Governor-General 
it was decided that English should be the medium of 
education for the people of India. Lord Macnulay, 
member of the Governor-General's Council, wrote his 
celebrated minute and Beiitick passed in 1835, the 
memorable resolution in favour of English education , . 

When it was proposed to appropriate the whole 

of Government Educational grant to English education, 
a petition was submitted against it, signed by about 8000 
Muslims of Calcutta, who believed the introduction of 
English was a step towards conversion to Christianity* 
Although there was no real cuiihe for this suspicion, a* 
the Government had declared, in ISOtf. the policy of 
religious neutrality, the Muslims boycotted English 
education. It is a pity that room could not have been 
found for both English and oriental education. Had' 
oriental learning found a place in the curriculum of 
English schools and colleges, as at present, most pro- 
bably there would not have been all this misapprehen- 
sion. The advocates of English education seem to have 
overshot their mark when Lord Macaulay, as their mouth- 
piece, declared, with his characteristic facility for exag- 
geration, that "a single shelf of a good European library 
was worth the whole native literature of India and 
Arabia/' The exclusive study of a foreign language 
confirmed the suspicion and the result, was, as will be 
shown later on, most detrimental to the interests- of my 
eo-religionists. 



ASSISTANT INSPECTOR, M. EDUCATION 41 

Our utilitarian countrymen, the Hindus, who during 
Muslim rule had readily learnt Persian, and some of 
whom had even become teachers of that language, quick 
to perceive the immense advantage that a knowledge 
of English literature and science would give them, early 
devoted themselves to western studies. Their advanced 
section, under the guidance of the celebrated patriot 
and linguist, Raja Ram Mohan Roy and the philanthro- 
pic watch-maker, David Hare, established an institution 
called 'Vidyalaya" for the education of Hindu children 
in English language and literature. In the course of 
a few years a taste for English was widely disseminat- 
ed among Hindus, and several schools, conducted by 
young men, educated in the "Vidyalaya/* sprang up in 
different places. The tide thus set in strongly in favour 
of Ifnglish education. 

The first fruits of exclusive English education in a 
foreign language, not well-grounded in their ancestral 
theology and traditions, were infected with scepticism, 
and the Hindu society of the time presented the appear- 
ance of chaos. Some of the most intelligent of the Eng- 
lish educated Hindus of the time, whose belief in their 
ancestral religion had been affected, did not hesitate 
to embrace Christianity. All these unfortunate circum- 
stances could not but alarm a religious people like the 
Muslims, most of whom, for a long time, kept aloof from 
English education and greatly suffered consequently in 
their worldly prospects. As the Government never adop- 
ted any proselytising policy and English education was 
purely secular, the Muslims had less cause to fear 
conversion through English education than any other 



42 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

^community in India, Islam being founded on principles 
too strong to be easily shaken. In fact it has been less aff- 
ected by western education and civilisation than any 
-other system. Muslims should have percieved the advan- 
tage of the change and should have adapted themselves 
to the exigencies of the time. But as an ancient con- 
quering race cannot easily divest itself of the traditions 
o! its nobler days and as they were confident of the supe- 
riority of their system of education, the Muslims continued 
to pursue their old studies with the lamentable result 
that before long they were practically excluded from 
that share of office and emolument in Government 
service to which their position entitled them and which 
they had once monopolised. 

The respectable Musalmans of Bengal have to learn 
Tnore or loss five languages, viz. Arabic an3 Persian, 
the language of their Scriptures and Literature, Urdu, 
the language of their society and Bengali and English 
the languages of the courts. It is this that stands, to 
some extent, in the way of fair competition with other 
classes of people, who have to learn two or thr^ee Ian- 
gjwge* only. Thought Urdu hi not the rartrnctrfcir of 
the Muslims of Bengal, it is regarded as their national 
language, their Lingua Praiica by which they com- 
municate with their co-religionists all over India. Besides, 
any of the religious books o! the Muslims have 
been translated from Arabic into Urdu. Those who 
cannot afford to teach their children Arabic, content 
-themselves with teaching them Urdu, through which 
they may learn the fundamental principles of their reli- 
gion and traditions. 



ASSISTANT INSPECTOR, M. EDUCATION 43 

The deplorable state of things mentioned above re- 
mained almost unnoticed till recent years. At last it 
attracted the attention of British statesmen who stu- 
died the subject. Mr. E. C. Bayley writes, "Is it any 
subject for wonder that they held aloof from a system 
which, however good in itself, made no concession to 
their prejudices, made in fact no provision for what 
they esteemed their necessities and which was in its 
nature unavoidably antagonistic to their interests and 
at variance with their social traditions." Sir William 
Hunter writes more strongly, "The language of our 
Government schools in Lower Bengal is Hindu and 
the masters are Hindus. The Musalmans with one 
consent spurned the instructions of idolators through 
the medium of idolatry. . . The astute Hindu has co- 
vere * the country with schools adapted to the wants 
of his own community but wholly un suited to the Muham- 
madans. . . . Our rural schools seldom enable a Muh- 
ammadan to learn the tongue necessary for his holding 
a respectable position in life and for the performance 
<of his religious duties/' These and similar remarks att- 
racteAU^e-iiotioft oft Government and the Earl of May* 
^teaiU wrtfe fom awr ex hauBtiv^e- Resolution m I88f. Hfe 
Excellency directed that further and more systematic 
encouragement and recognition should be given to the 
classical and vernacular languages of the Muham- 
madans in all Government schools and colleges ; that in 
avowedly English schools, established in Muhammadan 
districts, the appointment of qualified Muhammadan Eng- 
lish " teachers should be encouraged; that assistance 
should be given by grants-in-aid to enable them to 
open schools of their own, and that greater encourage* 



44 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

ment should be given to the creation of a vernacular 
literature for Mnhainmadans." 

On receipt of reports from Local Governments and" 
Administrations, Lord Northbrook came to the con- 
clusion "That whereevor the ordinary vernacular of the 
country was read and written in the Hindustani or the* 
Urdu character there Muhammadans occupied their pro- 
per position in the primary and secondary schools. . . . 
and the Muhammadans were not so much averse to the- 
subjects which the Government had decided to teach 
as to the modes or machinary through which instruc- 
tion was offered." In concluding the Resolution His 
Excellency expressed tho hope "that in all provinces 
whcro Muhammadans were few and often exposed to 
all the disadvantages which affect a religions mino- 
rity without wealth or influence, it would be tho spe- 
cial care of Government to satisfy themselves that 
these endeavours to encourage the education of Muham- 
madans would be persistently maintained/ This re- 
solution was considered by the Local Governments and 
steps were taken in the desired direction by some of 
them. 

The Government of Madras, notwithstanding the 
contrary opinions expressed by the Director of Public 
Instruction and the Syndicate of the Madras Univer- 
sity, was convinced "that the existing scheme, of ins- 
truction was framed with too exclusive reference to the 
requirements of the Hindu students, and that Muham- 
madans wore placed at so great a disadvantage that the 
wonder was not that the Muhammadan element in the- 
schools was so small but that, it existed at all." Some- 



ASSISTANT INSPECTOR, M. EDUCATION 45 

important steps were accordingly taken for the spread 
and encouragement of Miihammadaii education in the 
Madras presidency. 

The Director of public Instruction, Bengal, remarked 
in his report for 1871-72, "The Musalmans have fallen 
behind the time, and require still the inducements held 
out forty years ago to the whole community, but of 
"which only Hindus availed themselves. . . . Unless the 
strong inducements in general use forty years ago are 
held out to Muhammadans now I have little hope of 
seeing them drawn to our schools." The Government 
of Bengal, however, decided that it w.is not necessary to 
establish special schools for Muhammadans. But one 
important step was taken ; a portion of the Mohsiii 
-endowment was set free for the encouragement and ex- 
tension of education among the Muhammadans of Ben- 
gal. Madras as were established at Dacca and Ghittagong, 
scholarships were created for Muhammadan students and 
allotments were made from the Mohsin fund to the zilla 
schopls for paying two-thirds of the fees of poorMuham- 
Tnadan students and for appointment of Persian tea- 
chers. 

The Education Commission of -1882 made an exhaus- 
tive inquiry into the subject, consulting all available 
reports and resolutions and examining veteran Muham- 
'madan educationists as witnesses. After thoroughly 
threshing out the subject they formulated recommenda- 
tions -for the further encouragement of Muhammadan 
Education of which the following are important : 

(1) That the special encouragement of Muhammadan 



46 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

education be regarded as a legitimate charge on Local 
Municipal and on Provincial Funds ; 

(2) That indigenous Muhammadan schools be liber 
ally encouraged to add purely secular subjects to their 
course of instruction ; 

(3) That the official vernacular, in places where it 
is not Hindustani, be added as a voluntary subject to the 
curriculum of primary and middle schools for Muham- 
madans maintained from public funds, and that arith- 
metic and accounts be taught through the medium of 
the vernacular ; 

(4) That in localities where Muhammadans form a 
fair proportion of the population provision be made* 
in middle and high schools, maintained from public- 
funds, for imparting instruction in the Hindustani and 
Persian languages ; 

(5) The higher English education for Muhammadans 
being the kind of education in which that community 
needs special help, be liberally encouraged ; 

(o) That where necessary a graduated system of 
special scholarships for Muhammadans be established,, 
to be awarded (a) in primary schools, and tenable in 
middle schools, (b) in middle schools, and tenable in 
high schools (c) on the result of the Matriculation an i 
First Arts Examinations, and tenable in colleges ; 

(7) That in all classes of schools, maintained from 
public funds, a certain proportion of free studentshjps- 
be expressly reserved for Muhammadan students ; 

(8) That Muhammadan inspecting officers be em- 
ployed more largely than hitherto for the inspection of 
primary schools for Muhammadans ; 



ASSISTANT INSPECTOR, M. EDUCATION 4T 

In proposing these measures the Commission reviewed 1 
the general situation thus. 

"Apart from the social and historical conditions of 
the Muhammadan community in India, there are causes 
of a strictly educational character which heavily weigh 
it in the race of life. The teaching of the mosque must 
precede the lessons of the school. The one object of a 
young Hindu is to fit him for an official or professional 
career. But before the young Muhammadan is allowed 
to turn his thoughts to secular instruction he must com- 
monly pass some years in going through a course of 
sacred learning. The Muhammadan boy, therefore,, 
enters school later than the Hindu. In the second' 
place, he very often leaves the school at an earlier age. 
The Muhammadan parent belonging to the better classes 
is usually poorer than the Hindu parent in a corres- 
ponding social position. He cannot offord to give his 
son so complete an education. In the third place, irres- 
pective of his worldly means, the Muhammadan parent 
often chooses for his son while at school an education 
which will secure for him an honoured place among the- 
learned of his community, rather than one which wil? 
command success in the modern professions or in official* 
life. The above are the principal causes of an educa- 
tional character which retard the prosperity of the 
Musalmans." 

On the completion of five years at Calcutta, Maulavi 
Abdul Karim was transferred, in 1900, to Patna, witb 
jurisdiction over the Patna and Bhagalpur Divisions*. 
His friend, the late Khan Bahadur Dr. Asdar Ali Khan, 
who also came from Sylhet, helped him in getting 



-48 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

fortably settled and made him acquainted with the 
leading inhabitants of the place. In the late Khan 
Bahadur Khoda Buksh Khan, the founder of the re- 
nowned Oriental Library at Patna and in the late 
:Nawab Syed Imdad Imam, father of the late Syed Ali 
Imam and the late Syad Hasan Imam, he found helping 
friends. Unfortunately his stay in the new circle was 
-short ; within a year of his transfer there, his health 
broke down and he had to proceed on long leave. 

Out of evil sometimes cometh good; illness seems 
to have given a new turn to his mind ; he became 
more particular about religious observances and was 
on the look-out for a spritual guide. His friends, the 
tfate Maulvi Abdul Jawad and the late Shamsul-ulama 
Moitlvi Ahmad, spoke highly of the spiritual attain- 
ments of the late Maulana Ghulam Salmani Sahib. 
Thereupon he got himself introduced to him and began 
to attend his spiritual sittings. He was then initiated 
in the TARIQAT of Hazrat Mujaddid e-Alafi e-Sani. In 
about four years during which he sat at the feet of his 
spiritual guide, he made fair progress. But unfor- 
tunately he fell seriously ill, and lost much of what he 
had learnt. Before his recovery his Murshed suddenly 
-died to his utmost grief. 

Before Maulavi Abdul Karim returned from medical 
leave, the posts of Assistant Inspectors of Schools for 
Muhammadan Education, were abolished and he and his 
colleague, the late Maulavi Muhammad Ibrahim, were 
absorbed into the general cadre of Inspectors of Schools. 




MAUL AVI ABBOT, 
Assistant Inspector of Schools, Mffhamittadatt Mication, 
1890 to I960. 

4 '' 



CHAPTER VII. 

WORK AS A SPECIAL OFFICER FOR MUHAMMAD AN 
EDUCATION. 

Of the several steps that Maulvi Abdul Karim took 
for the furtherance of education among the Muslims, 
the most important wexe (1) Appointment of Muslims 
in the Education Department, (2) Allotment of funds 
for the assistance of poor Muslim students, (3) Relaxa- 
tion of Age Limit. ( 4) Establishment of Boarding-houses, 
(5) Reform of the system of Madrasah and Maktab 
Education. As will be seen from the statement below, 
in some of the districts and even in the whole of some 
of the Divisions there was not a single Muslim officer 
in the higher grades of either the teaching or the ins- 
pecting line of the Educational Service. This must 
have been most detrimental to the spread of education 
among the Muslims. As regards facilities for the edu- 
cation of poor Muslim students, there were no special 
free studentships for them and a large amount of the 
Mohsin Fund was utilise! in paying the salaries of 
Persian and Arabic teachers in Government Schools* 
The course of studies for Madrasahs and Maktabs did 
not qualify the taught for service, nor did it make them 
thorough Arabic scholars. As will be seen from the 
statement below the progress made in education by the 
Muslims of Bengal during the last quarter century ig 



SPECIAL OFFICER M- EDUCATION 51 

mainly due to the steps that were taken on Maulvi 
,Abdul KarimMS proposals. 



In Bengal, which included Bihar and Orissa, there 
-were, in 1893, 46 Deputy Inspectors of schools, 190 
'Sub-Inspectors of Schools and 290 school masters in 
'Government schools, of whom only 2, 9 and 11 respec- 
tively were Muslims. This disparity was most glar- 
ing in Bengal proper as shown below. 

1. In the Presidency Division all the 6 Deputy 
Inspectors of schools, all the 32 Sub -Inspectors of 
schools and all the 36 school-masters were non-Muslima. 

In the Dacca Division all the 4 Deputy Inspectors, 
all the 21 Sub-Inspectors and all the 18 sch ool-mastero 
non-Muslims. 



In the Chittagong Division all the 3 Deputy 
Inspectors were non-Muslims and out of 12 Sub-Ins- 
pectors, 2 and out of 22 school-masters 2 were Muslims. 

In the Burdwan Division all the? Deputy Inspectors 
and all the 17 school-masters were non-Muslims and 
out of 28 Sub-Inspectors only one was a Muslim. 

In the Rajshahi Division all the 7 Deputy Inspectors 
were non-Muslims and out of 28 Sub-Inspectors only one 
and out of 51 school masters only 2 were Muslims. 

M.Abdul Karim made a strong representation to 

the Director of Public Instruction, pointing out how 

such paucity and disproportion of Mus 1 im officers had 

a most injurious effect on the progress of education 

among the Muslims and proposing the appointment of 



52 LTFE OF A. KARIM 

Muslims on the occurrence of vacancies, provided caiv 
didates with the requisite qualifications were available-, 
till such time as the Muslim element in the educational 
service would be increased somewhat in proportion ta 
the Muslim population in the province. The Govern- 
ment agreed with him and on the whole -accepted hi& 
proposals as the following circulars will show : 

CIECULAR No. 79. 

Prom the Director of Public Instruction, Bengal. 

To all Inspectors of Schools (except the Inspector of 

of European Schools, Bengal). 

Dated, Darjeeling, the 25th June, I&9& 

SIR, 

I have the honour to state that in a letter No. 59T. 
dated the 23rd June, 1893, to the address of Government 
(copy enclosed), Dr. C. A. Martin called attention to 
the fact that far less than their fair share of appoint- 
ments in the Education Department, viz., Sub-Inspec- 
torships, Deputy Inspectorships, and teacherships in 
Government schools, were given to Muhammadaus, and 
that this disprop ortion could not but have an injurious 
effect on the progress of Muhammadan education. The 
Government, acquiescing in these views, has expressed 
a desire that Muhammadans should in future be appoint- 
ed to those offices to a larger extent; and you are 
Abfcbrdingly requested to take opportunities, a& ! occasion 
arise, of recommending to District ^Boards the 



SPECIAL OFFICER M. EDUCATION O3 

appointment of qualified Muhammadans as Sub-Inspec- 
tors of Schools, especially when the population of the 
district is largely Muhammadan. As vacancies in 
Deputy Inspectorships are generally filled up by pro- 
motion from Sub-Inspectors, it will not be possible to 
appoint Muhammadans to these posts to any great 
extent so long as the bulk of the Sub-Inspectors are 
Hindus, though Muhammadan graduates may be occa- 
sionally appointed as Deputy Inspectors without having 
-served as Sub-Inspectors, just as Hindu graduates have 
teen so appointed. 

Darjeeling, the 5th September 1897. 
FROM 

M. FINUCANE ESQ., 

Secretary of the Government of Bengal, 
To 

THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE BURDWAN, PRESIDENCY 

RAJSHAHT, DACCA, CHITTAGONG AND 

BHAGALPUR DIVISIONS. 



The attention of the Lieutenant-Governor has been 
drawn to the paucity of Muhammadans employed as 
Sub-Inspectors of Schools, compared with the numbers 
>of the population who are Muhammadans. The annex- 
ed table shows (L) the proportion of Muhammadans to 
Hindus in the total population, (2) the number of Sub- 
Inspectors employed by District Boards, and (3) the 



54 LIFE OF A. KABIM 

number which should be held by Muhammadans in pro- 
portion to the population ; 





'S. 


s 




& 


M 


""3 L O &0 


*8 


S 





^ 




e% , 


P- 

tn 


+^ 


lagl 


fe 


cc 

a 


2 "** 


03 

g 




Districts. 


h proportio 
i mmadans *o 


11 population 


>er of Sub-Ii 


il 


03 03 .S 

.d-St 8 

. a* 

tT.2 

T-^^s g 

n3 n'G g 

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REMARKS. 




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2. Though appointments cannot be reserved absolute- 
ly for Muhammadans to the exclusion of candidates 
of other religious persuasions, yet His Honour thinks 
that where qualified Muhammadans are available they 
should get preference in filling up a fair proportion of 
these appointments up to the number in column 5 of 
the table given above, even though men of equal or even 
higher attainments of other religious persuasions may 



SPECIAL OFFICE? M. EDUCATION 55 

be forthcoming and willing to take such appointments. 

If there are two candidates for one appointment, 
each of them possessing the requisite qualifications, the 
Lieutenant-Governor considers that preference should 
be given to the Muhammadan candidate until the 
number of appointments included in column 5 of that 
statement given above are held by persons of that 
religion. . . 

Darjeeling, the 24th June J901. 
FROM F. A. SLACKE, ESQ. i. c. s. 

Secretary to the Govt. of Bengal. 
To 

THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, Bengal. 
SIR, 

I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your 
letter No, T-614, dated the 30th May, 1901, with which 
you forward a report regarding the employment of 
Muhammadans in Zilla schools during the year 1900. 

2. The comparative statement annexed to your letter 
shows that, notwithstanding the distinct orders of 
Government on the subject, only 26 out of the 382 
teachers in Government service were Muhammadans* 
This is attributed to the paucity of suitable Muham- 
madan candidates who are willing to accept service 
on the same pay as Hindus ; but with reference to thia 
I am to enquire if Inspectors of Schools strictly adhere 
to the degree laid down a$ the qualification for the 
vacant post, and do not give preference to a Hindu, 
applicant over a Muhammadan owing to the fact that 
the former possesses a higher degree, though such 



56 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

degree is not an essential qualification for the vacancy. 

3. With a view to increase the number of Muham- 
madan teachers in Government service, the Lieutenant- 
Governor directs that in future, on the occurrence 
of a vacancy in a Zilla school, if there is no suitable 
local Muhammadan candidate, application should be 
made by the Inspector to the nearest Muhammadan 
Madrassa at Calcutta or Dacca. Furthermore, His Honour 
desires that the Principals of all colleges should be 
required to ascertain from all Muhammadan candidates 
for the F. A. Examination and the B. A. DegTee their 
addresses, and whether they wish to obtain appoint- 
ments in -Zilla schools, and, if so, the lowest initial pay 
they are willing to take ; and to furnish you half yearly 
with a list giving these particulars. You should then 
have a complete list .prepared, omitting the name of 
any candidates who had not passed the examinations. 
The list should contain the names of all the candidates 
for the current and the three preceding years, and copies 
of it should be sent to all Inspectors with orders that 
when suitable vacancies occurred they should be offered 
to those in the list who had expressed their willingness 
to accept such appointments. 

4. You are further requested to issue orders to the 
Inspectors that when a Muhammadan candidate refuses 
a post offered to him, his reason for doing so should, if 
possible, be ascertained, and reported in the half-yearly 
statement which they would have to submit to you to 
enable you to prepare your annual statement." 

Effect wan gradually given to the above-mentioned 
circulars. The ai r*eciabJe mmber of Muslim educa- 



SPECIAL OFFICER M. EDUCATION 57 

tional officers now in different districts of Bengal owed 
-their appointment to the steps taken 011 M. Abdul 
Karim's representation. In the beginning of his service 
-as an inspecting officer when he went to inspect any 
.school, he was looked upon as a rarity, and students and 
people of the locality who came to have a look at him 
used to remark "does a Muslim also become an Inspec- 
tor ?" What a great change took plaee at the end of 
his service may bo judged from what happened on a 
particular occasion. Once when as an Inspector of 
-Schools he was going to visit the Barisal Zilla School, 
perhaps for the last time, he found all the officers, tbe 
Assistant Inspector, the Deputy Inspector, the Sub- 
inspector and even the inspecting Pandit, accompanying 
him to the school, were Muslims. This was an excep- 
tional case, but, as a rule, in the districts having prepon- 
derating Muslim population the majority of the officers 
were Muslims. By this time, it seems the Muslims have 
-got the full prescribed number. 

ALLLOTMENT OF FUNDS FOR POOR STUDENTS As regards 
Tthe education of poor Muslim students, the Mohsin 
Fund was the only source out of which they might get 
lielp. But unfortunately a large amount of it was utilis- 
ed in paying the Maulavis in Government schools. How 
this amount could be freed for poor students engaged 
M. Abdul Karim's attention. As the amount required 
for Maulavis' salaries would have to be paid out of Pro- 
vincial Revenues, it was doubtful if the Director of 
Publiq Instruction would agree to make such a proposal 
during the regime of Sir Charles Elliot, who was un- 
-willing to add to the expenditure from Provincial Revenues 



58 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

if this could be avoided. M. Abdul Karim was on the look 
out for an opportunity to approach, if possible, the 
Lieutenant- Governor himself. Fortunately such an 
opportunity was not long in coming. On the occasion 
of Sir Charles Elliot's visit to Dacca, the late Nawab- 
Sir Khwaja Ahsan-ullah entrusted M. Abdul Karim with 
the drawing up of an address that was to be presented* 
to the Governor on behalf of the Muslims of Dacca. 
The address drawn up by M. Abdul Karim was approv- 
ed by all concerned and he was given a prominent posi- 
tion at the Darbar at which it was presented. When 
the Governor visited the collegiate school, Mr. Luttmon 
Johnson, the Divisional Commissioner, introduced him 
in high terms, of which the late Sir Henry Cotton, the 
Chief Secretary, seemed to have taken note. The 
Muslims of Mymensingh requested Mv Atdul Karim to 
draw up an address that was to be presented by them to 
Sir Charles Elliot and he complied with their request. 
At Mymensingh also he succeeded in favourably impress- 
ing the Governor. He then followed the Governor to- 
Noakhali, where he found the opportunity he was on 
the look-out for. While conducting the Governor to 
the classes in the Zilla school he drew his attention to 
the grievance of the Muslims. But the Governor said 
it was not unreasonable that the Maulavis, who taught 
Muslim students their classical languages, were paid 
out of the Mohsin Fund. Thereupon M. Abdul Karim 
said that while the Pandits, who taught Hindu students 
their classical language, were paid out of provincial" 
revenues there was no reason why the Maulvis should 
not be paid out of that revenues. This produced the 



SPECIAL OFFICER M. EDUCATION 5* 

desired effect ; the Governor told M. Abdul Karim that 
he might make a representation on the subject through- 
the proper channel. When the Director was approach- 
ed and was informed what the Governor had told M* 
Abdul Karim, he moved the Government ; and since 
then the Maulavis in all Government schools have been 
paid out of Provincial Revenues. Thus a large amount 
of the Mohsin Fund was set free for the assistance of 
poor Muslim students. Besides, on M. Abdul Karim's 
proposal a number of free and half -free studentships for 
Muslim students were created out of Provincial Revenues., 

RELAXATION OF AGE LIMIT. On his appointment as 
Assistant Inspector for Muhammadan Education, 
M. Abdul Karim found that some Muhammadan stu~ 
dents were debarred from entering High English 
schools by a Departmental Circular which laid down 
"that no boy who has attained the age of fourteen years 
should be admitted to any class of a Government high- 
school below the fourth." He pointed out to the Di- 
rector of Public Instruction that Muhammadan boys- 
generally join schools later than Hindu boys, as they~ 
have to go through a prior course of religious instruc- 
tion at home before joining any school. The rule was 
accordingly relaxed in case of Muhammadan boys. 

BOARDING HOUSES. One of the steps required' 

to be taken for Muhammadan students of High English 
schools was the establishment of boarding-houses. Most 
of the En glish schools were situated at district and 
subdivision al head-quarters where there were few Mu- 
Jhammadan officers and members of the bar with whom 
Muhammadan boys might put up. On Maulavi Abdul 



'60 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

Karim's representation a circular was issued by the 
Director of Public Instruction in which it was stated 
"If it is desired to build a cheap boarding-house Go- 
vernment may be expected to contribute towards the 
-cost, but the chief share would have to be borne by 
local subscribers. One of the Muhammadan teachers 
of the school would probably be the most suitable per- 
son to be put in charge of the hostel, and he would be 
entitled to the ordinary capitation fee of 8 annas a 
head monthly." Effect was gradually given to this 
circular. Backergange was one of the first districts to 
avail of the concession. When the major portion of 
tlie required amount was collected, Government gave 
a grant of Rs. 5000. 

Madrasahs. The following is an extract from a 
long letter which M. Abdul Karim addressed to Go- 
vernment regarding the Madrasahs in Bengal: The 
Madrasahs are the only institutions for higher education 
of Musalmans in their classical languages. In Bengal 
there are four principal Madrasahs, one maintained by 
Government and three from theMohsin Trust. There are 
still a few private Madrasahs, the relics of those noble 
institutions which in bygone times were scattered through- 
out the length and breadth of the country. Their 
-teachers are eminent Maulavies who charge no fees 
and devote their lives to advancing Islamic learning. 
*When Persian was the Court language, these Madrasahs 
were the most useful and largely-attended educational 
institutions in Bengal. They no longer serve that 
purpose, but they are the only institutions of Musaf"* 
tnans in which, in this utilitarian age when most people 



SPECIAL OEFICER M. EDUCATION 61 

think of nothing but the bread and butter problem, the* 
true love of learning survives. Their pupils pursue 
learning for its own sake in order to devote their lives 
to the cause of their religion, law and literature. If 
these institutions cease to exist and those who attend' 
them plunge themselves in to the materialism, scepticism 
and godlessness raging all around, the day will not be 
long in coming when Islam in India will cease to have- 
a hold on her followers. It is desirable, therefore, that 
there should be a number of such institutions. It should' 
be seen, however, that they give the best of the edu- 
cation they profess to impart and their successful stu- 
dents find adequate scope for their attainments 
and energies. As at present taught, the Madrasah 
students are hardly well-qualified for any career in life. 
For want of a sufficient knowledge of Court languages 
they cannot, as a rule, enter the public service or the 
learned professions; for want of a requisite knowledge 
of the vernacular of the Province they cannot find employ- 
ment in the service of Zamindars, trader* and others; 
for want of technical knowledge and capital they can- 
not take to trade; for want of a thorough knowledge 
of Hadis and Tafsir and of the vernacular of the Pro- 
vince they cannot be successful preachers; and for want 
of a thorough knowledge of Arabic and Persian they 
cannot be even very efficient teachers of these languages. 
Thus unqualified for any useful career, many of the 
Madrasah students, after finishing their education, 
become a burden on their community and some of 
them are driven to such straits that they are forced to 
have recourse to questionable means of gaining their 



LIFE OF A, KARIM 

livelihood. Such being the state of Madrasah students, 
it is most desirable that such steps should be taken as 
^will give them an education that will create fields for 
*he employment of their attainments and will enable 
/them to chalk out a useful career in life." 

With the letter M. Abdul Karim submitted a well- 
thought-out comprehensive scheme for the improvement 
of the Madrasahs. The course of studies prescribed for 
Middle Madrasahs and for the Title classes of high 
Madrasahs are based on that scheme. If all his sugges- 
tions regarding remodelling of Madrasahs had been 
adopted their utility would have been much increa 



CHAPTER VIII. 

AN INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS 

On return from leave Maulvi Abdul Karim was ap- 
pointed to act as Inspector of Schools, Dacca Division, 
when the permanent Inspector of Schools, Mr. Muthura- 
iiath Chatterjee, went on leave. He was warmly wel- 
comed by all his friends, both Muslims and non-Muslims. 
His work as acting Inspector of Schools, marked by 
praise-worthy activity and impartiality, was welhappre- 
ciated both by the Department and the public. Hearing 
of his appointment Sir Alfred Croft wrote from England, 
'"I am glad to know that you are discharging the respon- 
sible duties of an Inspector satisfactorily I hope; 
lionestly and energetically I am sure. I trust in good 
time you will be confirmed in this position and grade* 
Dr. Martin wrote, "I ana glad to hear you have been 
acting as Inspector of Schools, Dacca. It is in many 
ways a troublesome post to fill. I trust that this acting 
appointment may subsequently lead to your getting such 
a post permanently/' Mr. P. Mukherjee, Inspector of 
Schools, Presidency Division, wrote, **It is a pleasure 
in these times of dearth of capacity to see a few capable 
men like yourself still left. People hanker after pro- 
motion but they must first deserve it/' 

Just on the expiration of the term of acting Inspector- 
ship of M. Abdul Karim, the then Lieutenant-Governor, 
Sir John Woodburn, paid his last visit to Dacca, When 
officials and non-officials were waitting at the Buckland 



64 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

Bund to welcome him on his arrival, M. Abdul Karim 
suddenly had a fainting fit. He was removed to a tent 
pitched on the Bund. When after a short while he 
regained consciousness, he saw two gentlemen attending 
on him, one was the late Shamsul-ulama Maulvi Abdul 
Mumin, the Superintendent of the Dacca Madrasah, 
who owed his appointment to him, and the other was a 
Hindu gentleman with whom he was not acquainted. 
Expressing his gratitude for kindly attending on him 
while, like others, he should have been present for intro- 
ductiop to the Governor, he asked his name. "My 
name" said he "is Harinath De. I could not have 
passed the University Entrance Examination in History 
if you had not published your epitome of Hunter's 
History of India. My sense of 4*ratitde haa brouglit 
me here." 

On the Governor's arrival, the assembled gentlemen- 
were introduced to him. When Mr. Ran kin, the then- 
District Magistrate of Dacca, introduced Mr. Chatterjee,. 
who had just taken charge of inspectorship, His Honour 
enquired "is not Maulvi Abdul Karim the Inspector of 
Schools here?" In answer Mr. Ran kin informed him 
of the exp iration of his term of inspectorship and of the 
accident. Next day when he met his Honour at the* 
Dacca Madrasah, he asked him u hadyou fever like me", 
and made kind enquiries about his health. Shortly after 
his return from Decca, Sit John Woodbnrn died. 
Indescribable was the sorrow felt by all those who r 
like M. Abdul Karim, knew what a kind hear,t he had. 
In those days educational officers had to draw the pay- 



AN INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS 65 

of their grade something left out either by retirement or 
death. For over a decade M. Abdul Karim had to draw 
the same salary as no vacancy occurred in the higher gra- 
de during this period. This stood in the way of his promo- 
tion to the post of an Inspector, the salary of which 
was higher than what he Was drawing. When he saw 
Mr John Woodburn at the Ahsan Manzi], where he 
was staying, he represented this to him. He was asked 
to put down on paper what he had to say. The Chief 
Secretary, Mr. Buckland, who was with the Governor, 
was instructed to send M. Abdul Karim's representation 
to the Education Secretary, Mr. Macpherson, for doing 
what might be possible for his early promotion to the 
post of an Inspector of Schools. Some time after he 
was appointed Inspector of Chittagong Division, with 
an allowance to be drawn until his promotion to the 
next higher grade. 

EVIDENCE BEFORE THE UNIVERSITY COMMISSION OF 
1902. Before his appointment as permanent Ins- 
pector of Schools M. Abdul Karim acted as Assistant 
Inspector of Schools, Dacca Division. During this 
period he had to give evidence before the University 
Commission, appointed by Lord Curzon, presided over 
by Sir Walter Releigh. He was th$ only inspecting 
officer in the whole of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, who 
was selected by Sir Alexander Pedler. to give evidence 
before the Commission, The following are extracts from 
the "Note" he placed before the Commission ; 

"I .am a Graduate of the Calcutta University and 
an Assistant Inspector of Schools of more than twelve 
years standing. I have been directly connected with 



66 LIFE OF A. KARTM 

the University as one of its Fellows for about 
seven years. As an inspecting officer I had occa- 
sion to visit some of the colleges, most of the High 
English Schools and many of the Middle and Primary 
Schools in thirty districts of Bengal, Behar and Orissa* 
I propose to speak mainly about the stato of High 
English Schools, of which I have seen a good deal, 
My views on some points connected with those ins- 
titutions are likely to differ from the views of those 
whose observations are confined to particular localities 
and particular institutions. . . . 

INCREASE OF HIGH ENGLISH SCHOOLS. The num- 
ber of high English schools has considerably increased 
of late. Where a few years ago there was not even 
a school of this class, there have sprung up many in 
the course of a few years. In soma places the number 
is much larger than necessary to meet real requirements. 
These schools owe their origin to four causes. When 
the standard of proficiency in general attainments 
required for admission into the Medical and Survey 
schools and for candidates for the Mukhtearship -Exa- 
mination was raised, a large number of Middle Schools 
were converted into English Schools. Only a few 
of these met a real demand for high education. The 
majority were started either as mere money-making 
concerns to satisfy individual vanity or party feelings* 
Some people of moderate means and education, when 
they fail in other walks of life, think of trading in 
schools and scholars. Again, when a Mr. Ghosh, esta- 
blishes a school, a Mr. Bose of that locality thinks 
it necessary for maintaing his prestige to open a rival 



AN INSPECTOR- OF SCHOOLS 67 

school of the kind. Thus there have sprung up a num- 
ber of schools, unhealthy rivalry among which 
far from furthering the cause of sound education great- 
ly retards it. The unseemly struggle among these 
schools to secure boys, has made the students masters 
of the situation. There has been in consequence a 
perceptible deterioration both in efficiency and disci- 
pline of our schools. 

The University, I regret to have to say, is to blame, 
to some extent, for calling into existence schools of the 
.kind mentioned above. If the University had refused 
to grant them the privilege of sending up candidates to 
its examinations, they would have died, before long, a 
natural death. In some cases in spite of strong adverse 
opinions expressed by Departmental officers, the Uni- 
versity authorities thought it fit to recognise schools. 
It is most desirable that before recognising a school 
every care should be taken to ascertain whether it 
supplies a real demand, whether the cause of sound 
education would be furthered by it and how far the 
existing educational institutions in the neighbourhood 
would be affected by it. ... 

DETERIORATION IN DISCIPLINE. In some schools 
boys are masters of the situation. These schools have 
to struggle for their very existence and depend entirely 
upon the income derived from fees and fines. They 
cannot afford to lose boys whose deficiencies and delin- 
quencies have to be overlooked. Boys migrate from 
one school to another if punished for misbehaviour or 
not promoted for unsatisfactory progress. The Transfer 
Rules are meant to check this regrettable state of things* 



68 LIFE OF A. KARTM 

But although we have repeatedly been pointing out to 
the school authorities that nothing tells so seriously 
upon the efficiency of a school as does indiscriminate 
promotion, we have not succeeded in checking it. In 
many schools an overwhelming majority of boys are 
totally unfit for the classes in which they are . . ." 

TEACHING STAFF. The teaching staff in many 
schools is far from sufficient and efficient. The pay is 
too low to attract qualified men or to induce them to stick 
long to the posts when they accept them. They have to 
work without interruption for full five hours and have 
sometimes to teach at a time more classes than one. 
The result is that the teachers do not care either to 
work with their heart or to stick to thfe posts. School- 
mastering has thus come to bo looked upon by some 
of our graduates and undergraduates as a stepping -stone 
to better posts or, more generally, as a halting-place 
for preparation for the Bar. They* have not their heart 
in the work and as soon as they find anything better 
they throw up their appointment in the school. Thus 
there is frequent change in the teaching staff and this 
tells seriously upon both the discipline and efficiency 
of the schools. 

Method of Teaching. The method of teaching in 
our schools is far from what it ought to be. An average 
boy does not acquire a good knowledge of the subjects 
taught. The defect in teaching seems to be chiefly due 
to four causes, viz. (1) Want of qualified and dutiful 
teachers; (2) Large classes making individual attention 
impossible ; (3) Multiplicity of subjects and text-books ; 
and (4) Examination questions encouraging cram. 



AN INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS 69 

I have already told you that most of the teachers 
Eire not well-grounded in the art of teaching and many 
of them have not their heart in the work, and some of 
the classes are so large that it is not possible for tea- 
chers to attend to every student. Unless the appoint- 
ment of trained teachers and payment of sufficient 
salaries to them are insisted upon, and the classes are 
composed of a limited number of boys, the quality of 
teaching is not likely to improve. At present the one 
object of both the teachers and the pupils being any 
how to pass the examination as easily and as soon as 
possible, only that which is likely to be useful for that 
purpose is taught and learnt. Thus cramming takes 
the place of intelligent study and the memory is cultiva- 
ted to the neglect of reason and judgment. ^. . . Besides, 
multiplicity of subjects and text-books also stands in 
;he way of acquirement of a thorough knowledge. So 
many subjects have to be learnt and so many text-books 
have to be read that in some cases there is no alter- 
native but to cram, . . . 

Age Limit. I am in favour of fixing a limit of age 
for candidates for the Entrance Examination. In my 
opinion it is not desirable to allow a boy to go up to 
the Entrance Examination before he is fifteen* if not 
sixteen. I have found even very smart boys, who stand 
high in th$ir class examinations, have to depend much 
more upon their memory than on understanding* Un- 
less there is a sufficient development of intellect, it is 
not possible to understand thoroughly some of the sub- 
jects. Besides, the effect of rushing up a boy in his 
studies is disastrous to his health. The other day ^1 



70 r.TFE Of A. KAKIMT 

had a talk with the Head-master of a very largeFy 
attended school in my Division, He mentioned to* 
me three instances of boys RaPvinr passed the Entrance- 
Examination from his school at the earty age of thir~ 
teen. These boys aquittled themselvs eneditably* a * the- 
University Examinations* and gained scholarships.- 
But the ultimate resaH has been disastrous in all the 
cfcse&. One of the boys died shortly after he left the 
University, one is in a lunatic asylum and the 
other, though a member of the Bar, is in a miserable 
state of healtlu Several cases like this came to my 
notice.,, 

Sir Alexander Pedler was well-pleased with M, Abdut 
Karini's .evidence. With regard to this Sir Alfred 
Croft wrote, "1 am very glad to receive the copy of 
the Evidence yon gave before the Commision, which 
I read with much interest. The views that you ex- 
press seem to me to be generally sound and sagacious, 
and they have the advantage of being based upon a 
pretty wide experience of schools and their managers, 
as well as of the University." 

When M, Abdul Karim took cbarge of the Chitta- 
gong Division he found that the steps he had taken, a 
decade berfore, a# Assistant Inspector of Schools for 
Muhammadan Education, had appreciably improved the 
educational condition of the Muslims of that Division* 
Some schools were established for secular education of 
Muslims, the number of Muslim students had increased 
and more Muslims were appointed teachers and inspecting 
officers. He now gave his co-religionists to understand 
that he was no longer a special officer and it would not 



Atf IK8PECT0RX)F SCHOOT-S 71 

5be proper for them to expect that he woftld &evote all 
his attention to them, his duty now being to look after 
fthe interests of all communities -Muslims, Hindus, 
Buddhists and Christians* 

Some time after assuming charge of the Chittagong 
Division M, Abdul Karim held a conference of school 
masters and inspecting officers. It was opened hy the 
Divisional Commissioner and was attended by the head 
masters and some <other teachers of almost all the high 
-schools in the Division and also by the inspecting 
officers. It was a very successful conference as was 
testified to by those who took part in it. Some of them 
rwere heard to say that they had learnt more in these 
iew days than* what they could leara in six months of 
their training. The summary gjven below of the pre* 
sidential speech of M. Abdul Karim will show what 
was the object of the conference and what subjects were 
discussed. 

"Gentlemen, the Importance and utility of such 
* conference can hardly be over-estimated. It is 
very desirable that those who are engaged in the most 
responsible work of educating the youth, should occa- 
sionally meet together in order to compare notes as to 
what has already been done in different places hy 
different persons and to discuss and decide, in the light 
of past experience, what further steps should be taken 
o as to extend the field of education and to improve 
the quality of instruction. Such mutual interchange of 
thoughts and ideas, tending as it does to broaden our 
views and raise our ideals, cannot but be highly beneficial 
to the cause of education. The mature experience and 



72 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

commendable devotion to duty of those who have spent 
the best part of their lives in the noble work of training 1 
the faculties and forming the character of young men, 
cannot fail to prodi.ee their effect on those who have 
lately entered the arena, nor can the youthful enthusiasm 
and activity in the new workers in the field of education 
go unappreciated by those who will not continue long: 
in their useful career, 

I have experience of no less than thirty districts in 

the Province. 1 do not think I shall be justified in 

saying that the state of education is what is ought to be ; 

there is ample room for improvement in many respects. 

The progress of true education has been greatly retarded 

by ill-managed, ill-officered and ill-equipped schools, 

by unhealthy competition between rival institutions, by 

irresponsible teachers who do not realise the gravity of 

their position, by unenlightened and unreasonable parents, 

who take little care for the proper education of their 

children, . . In some places there have sprung up, owing 

either to party faction or speculative object, more 

schools than are necessary to meet real requirements. 

The unhealthy rivalry between such institutions, which 

have to depend mainly upon the income derived from 

lees and cannot, therefore, afford to lose pupils, has 

made the boys masters of the situation. Schools such 

as these can never further the cause of sound education. 

The number of untrained and unwilling teachers in 
our schools is by no means small. Some of them; utterly 
ignoraut of the art of teaching, have come direct from 
the college to the teachers' chair, as if every graduate, 
and undergraduate is fit to teach and no training is 



AN INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS 73 

necessary for the purpose. There are others who look 
upon the teacher's post as a stepping-stone to some- 
thing better or as a halting-place for preparation for 
the Bar. Such a teacher can have no heart in his work. 
After serving for some time when he learns something 
of the art and begins to be useful, the hireling hastens 
to pursuits more congenial to his taste. I need hardty 
say that we want for our schools a bodv of gifted men 
who by their natural aptitude, professional training, 
unimpeachable character and devotion to duty, are 
worthy of being entrusted with the education of those 
upon whom all our future hopes depend. It is true that 
in these days when so many paths of wealth and emolu- 
ments are open, the best minds in the countrv cannot 
be won to an office so responsible and laborious as that 
of teaching without sufficient inducemeuts. We propose 
to discuss at this conference how to raise the profession 
of teaching in public estimation and to better the pros- 
pects of teachers. The good of our children, the well- 
being of society, the physical, mental and spiritual pro- 
gress of mankind, require that our educational institu- 
tions should be under the care of the best and wisest 
in the counfcryl 

The inattention and indifference of parents to the 
proper training of their children cannot but strike 
those who think of the advancement of learning in this 
country. It is very much to be deplored that parents 
are inclined to be economical in a matter of such vital 
importance to their children. Those who squander 
thousands on dress, furniture and amusements, hesitate 
to spend comparatively small sums for the education of 



74 I FE OF A. KARIM 

their children. They seem to care more for accumulat- 
ing wealth for the ; r children than for giving them 
sound educatio.i. Thus to starve the intellect of a 
child inorder to L-ave him a fortune, is a folly .that 
cannot be cjudein icl in too st rorg a language. I need 
hardly say that parents should reduce every other, item 
of expenditure in or$er to give their children such an 
education as >viH make them fit to bear a manly, useful 
and honourable p^rt in the world. They should always 
remember Herbert Spencer's description of education 
as a means of forming the parent, the worker, the 
thinker, the subject and the citizen. 

Some parents are inclined to underestimate the 
teachers' office. They seem to think that the most moderate 
ability is competent to discharge the duties of this res- 
ponsible post. It is rot altogether uncommon to find 
parents putting their children under the daily control 
of one with whom they do not care to associate. Unless 
a true estimate is formed of the teaching profession, 
unless the teacher's responsible work is well understood 
and his valuable services are properly appreciated, un- 
less parents secure the services of such instructors as 
might become guardians and guides to their children 

and heartily co-operate with them, true education 

1 1 ) (if 

cannot make much progress in the land. 

As you are aware, I have taken, since assuming 
cnarge of this Division, some steps calculated to im- 
prove the efficiency of teaching, to raise the status of 
teachers and to ref 01 in the character of the taught. | 
find that some of these measures, probably owing to mis- 
apprehension regarding their usefulness and adaptability 



AN INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS 75 

which could not be clearly explained in brief official 
circulars, have not been so popular as desirable. Before 
taking other steps of the kind I have thought it desir- 
able to consult you about them. I have no doubt that 
] shall have some very valuable suggestions from you, 
specially from those who have devoted a considerable 
portion of their lives to fostering education in the land. 

We propose to discuss, as far as the time at our dis- 
posal permits, various subjects connected with the 
management of schools, organisation of classes, method 
of teaching, qualifications of teachers, intellectual, moral 
and physical culture of boys and suc'i other matters. 

Gentlemen, in our discussions we might have to set 
before you ideals which might seem to be unattainable 
or we might have to express opinions and enunciate 
principles which mi^lit appear to be detrimertal to the 
interests of particular individuals or particular institu- 
tions. In such a case it is hopecl you will remember that 
you are engaged in a work which requires a high aim 
and great self-denial and self-sacrifice. When any ideal 
appears to you too high, remember that the first condi- 
tion of its being attainable is that you shall believe it 
to be worthy of attainment. 

You teachers should always bear in mind that yours 
is the noblest and ndo^t responsible work the work of 
fashioning the intellect, the conscience and the character 
of future generations of your countrymen. It has been 
rery truly 4aid that M mothers and school-masters plant the 
seeds of nearly all the good and evil in the ^world." No 
great intellectual or moral change fn the community 
Bah take place unless it is effected by you. To my- 



76 LIFE OF A. 

mind you hold in your hands the leading strings of t\o 
nation and you can make or mar its future prospects. If 
you do not occupy a high position, like judges and 
magistrates, you should remember that you are the makers 
of judges and magistrates. No profession affords 
greater opportunities of usefulness and no labour- 
is fraught with more momentous results. Under such 
circumstances is it too much to expect that you will 
be animated by a high sense of responsibility, actuated 
by a solemn sense of duty, so that you may succeed in 
performing the important task entrusted to you to the 
best of your abilities and in fulfilling the noble mission 
undertaken by you to the satisfaction of your consci- 
ence ? Although your thankless and ill- paid but most 
important services are yet but little appreciated, al- 
though uncongenial and discouraging your duties 
may sometimes appear, although pecuniary success and 
public approbation may not always be yours, although 
ungenerous criticism and false standards of estimation 
may often be applied to your work, you should not 
despair. I have reason to hope the time is drawing 
nigh when your most valuable services will be well- 
understood, well-appreciated and well-paid. You 
should never forget your responsibility. You should 
never court popularity by tampering with principles 
or pandering to prejudices. You should never truckle 
to public opinion when you are convinced it is mis- 
directed. Honesty and consistency cannot but com- 
mand respect in the long run. If you discharge your 
duties in the manner indicated by me, you are sure to 
rise in public estimation, you are sure to be well-treated 



AN INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS 77 

by the authorities, you are sure to be gratefully remem- 
bered by your pupils, some of whom might dedicate to 
you lines similar to those dedicated by the Marquis of 
Wellesiey to Eton* 

"On loftiest deeds to fix the aspiring gaze, 
To seek the purer lights of ancient days. 
To love the simple paths of manly truth, 
These were thy lessons to my opening youth, 
If on later life some glory shine, 
Some honours grace my name, the meed is thine." 
On the last day of the Conference M. Abdul Karim 
gave an evening party to which the leading Muslims 
and non-Muslims of Chittagong as well as those who 
had taken part in the Conference were invited. 

After the Conference M f Abdul Karim offered to 
award two medals for the best essays on "What makes 
a Model Teacher" and * How to raise the Teaching pro- 
fession in public estimation." 

A telegram from Chittagong to the newspapers ran as 
follows: 

"The Conference of Teachers closed yesterday, Mau- 
lavi Abdul Karim delivered an impressive speech, 
A vote of thanks on behalf of the teachers was carried 
with acclamation. Babu Jafcra Mohon Sen thanked the 
learned Maulavi on behalf of the public and said that 
he had infused a, new life ito the teachers and the 
taught. The whole party was photographed." 

The "East'' of Dacca wrote:- "That Maul vie Abdul 
Karhn, as Inspector of Schools, Chittaggng Division, 
has been working iii right earnest for the improvement 



78 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

of education in his Circle, is indee'l noteworthy. He 
lately held a Conference of Teachers and in his open- 
ing Presidential address, he called attention to various 
subjects connected wjth the management of schools, 
organization of classes, method of teaching and qualifi- 
cations of teachers, intellectual, moral and physical 
culture of young men and other matters. We should 
commend his sound advice to the guardians of the boys 

sent to schools for education " 

The "Weekly Chronical" wrote :- - "Mr. Abdul 
Karim, Inspector of Schools, Chittagong Division, is 
an educationist of repute in Bengal and has already 
made his mark in 'he service to which he belongs As. 
a native of our district we are proud of him, and his 
ways and work have always possessed special interest 
for us. A min of versatile talents and the very reverse 
of what Lord C urzon would call an "admirable auto- 
maton/' Mr. Abdul Karim does not walk in the stereo- 
typed path, but is ever busy to discover new lines for 
the spread and improvement of education in his Circle* 
In fact since his advent to the Chittagong Division 
he has done a great deal to infuse life and vigour into 
those wke are engaged in the responsible work of 
educating the youth and has also taken some steps cal- 
culated to improve the efficiency of teaching, to raise 
the status of teachers and to reform the character of 

the taught We congratulate Mr, Abdul Karim 

on his laudable efforts for promoting the cause of edu- 
cation and desire also to add that t e consummate 1 
ability which he has brought to bear on the discharge 
of his responsible work stamps him not only as a highly 



AN INS VECTOR OF SCHOOLS 79 

useful servant of Government, but also as a patriot 
of no mean order/* 

The climate of Chittagong had deteriorated by the 
time AL Abdul Karim took charge of. it. He hoped 
to get before long a transfer to some other Division. 
But he had to give up this hope. Lord Curzon, deci- 
ding to partition Bengal, paid a visit to Chittagong and 
held a Darbar there in order to prepare the people for 
what was coining. Shortly after his visit, the Dacca 
and Chittagong Divisions were separated from Bengal, 
and with Assam a new Province was formed. Sir 
Bamfylde Fuller was appointed its first Lieutenant- 
Governor and he began his administration with un- 
precedented activity. He, however, took some hasty 
steps to put down the vigorous agitation that was 
started to get the partition of Bengal annulled. The 
Viceroy, Lord Minto, who had succeeded Lord 
Curzon, disapproved of his action and thereupon he 
tendered his resignation. This proved very detri- 
mental to the interests of M. Abdul Karim, who within 
a short time had gained Sir Bamfylde Fuller's air- 
probation for his efficient administration. During 
his visits to some of the schools he spoke well of M. 
Abdul Karim and asked the pupils to read from 
his history.* All this raised the Maulavi in public 



GOVERNMENT HOUSE, 
SHILLOSG, 27m SKPFEMBER, 1905. 
*Dear Sir, 

I am much obliged for the books you have sent 
me. But I have read already your History of India 



80 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

estimation and he had reason to feel keenly the loss 
of such a friendly Governor. 

In April 1906 M. Abdul Karim attended the Pro- 
vincial Muhammadan Education al Conference held at 
Dacca under the presidency of Nawab Sir Salimullah 
Bahadur. He had to take a prominent part in its 
proceedings and this was much appreciated by all pre- 
sent. The following are extracts from one of his 
speeches at the Conferene, published by Maulvi Syed 
Abdul Jabbar, Zamindar of Comilla: 

"Gentlemen, I have been asked to say a lew words 
in response to the hearty welcome accorded by Khajah 
Muhammad Asgluu- Sahib, President of the Keception 
Committee, to the gentlemen who have come here from 
different parts of the Province. 1 need hardly say that 
our best thanks are due to the promoters of the Con*- 
ference for giving us such an excellent opportunity of 
meeting together. It is indeed a happy sign of the 
times that a gentleman of the Nawab Bahadur s high 
position has condescended to take so prominent a part 
in such a movement. The importance and utility of a 
conference like this can hardly be over-estimated . . . 
Such mutual interchange of thoughts and ideas, tending 
as it does to broaden our views and to raise our ideals, 
oannot but be highly beneficial to the cause of educa- 
tion. .. While of late the Mnhammadans have been 
progressing other communities have not been standing 

and your name is familiar tome as that of an earnest 
educationalist. 

Yours very truly, , 
J. B. FULLER. 



AN INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS 81 

still. Unless, therefore, very vigorous efforts are made 
it is not possible to regain the lost ground for a long 
time to come. From the fact that Muhammadans have 
fallen far short of the standard of success which they 
should have achieved and the "higher the standard of 
education the more marked the backwardness of Muhani- 
madans, an impression seems t^> have gained ground 
in some quarters that Muhamraidans are wot equal 
in intellectual capacities to the members of other 
communities. My experience as an educational offioer 
of about twenty years' standing is otherwise. I have 
had better opportunities than many others of judging 
the parts of pupils belonging to different communities, 
and I believe if the same advantages and same oppor- 
tunities be given them, Musalmatis are well able to 
hold their own with any other class of His Majesty's 
subjects in Bengal. Our best efforts, therefore, should 
be to remove the difficulties that stand in the way 
of the educational advancement of the Musalmans 
and to secure for them the special facilities they re- 
quire for the purpose. . . . 

Before resuming my seat I beg to tender, oa 
behalf of my co-religionists assembled here, our 
heartfelt thanks to the official and non-official 
European and Hindu gentlemen, who have been so 
good as to grace this meeting and countenance it 
proceedings by their presence. Need I add that we 
are very thankful to Nawab Mohsinul-Mulk Sahib, tke 
grand old man of Aligarh, who has devoted his life 
and consecrated his energies even at this advanced age 
to the service of his co-religionists, and who is intimate* 
6 



l|2 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

ly connected with the renowned College at Aligarh, 
which has become an intellectual centre of the Musal- 
maiis not only of India but of the whole of Asia, and 
which is a standing monument of the great efforts made 
fpr the intellectual elevation of his community by the 
late lamented Sir Syed Ahmad, the greatest Indian 
Musalman of the nineteenth century, (cheers). 

Some time before he left the Chittagong Division 
M. Abdul Karim had tc perform a very unpleasant duty 
which made him unpopular among those who did not 
realise the enormity of the crimes committed by some 
of the school students in Comilla, Chittagong and some 
other place. On sifting enquiry he found that some 
grown up wicked students and some outsiders were 
polluting fair-looking young students and committing 
horrible attrocities on some of them. Determined to 
put down all this and to clear the school atmosphere, 
M, Abdul Karim took various steps. He called con- 
ferences of guardians and consulted them as to what 
steps they might suggest. He decided to give a chance 
to most of the students concerned by at first inflicting 
light punishment on them and to rusticate only a few 
who were unpardonably active in the matter. Uufor* 
tnuately Mr. Luson, the Commissioner, coming to know 
what was going on, sent for all the papers and without 
consulting M. Abdul Karim, submitted direct to the 
Government a strong report proposing rustication of 
all the students concerned. His proposal w$s accepted 
ud. most of the students concerned were rusticated, 
This created a sensation and M Abdul Karim beearae 
unpopular, as the public did not know how fair 



AN INSPECTOR OF SCHOOLS 85 

he was responsible for what had happend. Naturally 
his relation with the Commissioner became strained. 
Besides, he had differences over some appoitmenta 
and other matters with the Director of Public Ins- 
truction, Mr. Sharp, who had all along been so very 
kind and courteous to M. Abdul Karim as to cause 
envy among officials in the Department. "When the 
Director decided to promote some officers who had 
somehow happened to have impressed him, M. Abdul 
Karim objected to this as some other officers, whom 
the Director had no occasion to know, had prefer- 
ential claim to promotion. All this greatly disgusted 
M. Abdul Karim who was at that time in a shattered 
state of health on account of climatic effect. He 
decided to proceed on long leave. Coining to know 
of this, the Director offered him the Inspectorship of 
the Kajshahi Division, but he did not accept it. He 
proceeded on leave and went to Wattair to recoup his 
health. During his three months stay there he met 
some of the high officials of the Education Department 
of Madras and attended a conference held by then* 
at Vi2gapatam. At Waltair he became acquainted 
with the late Baja Bunbehari Kapur, C. S. I., the 
father of the Maharajadhiraj of Burdwan, and was very 
much impressed by his sociability. 



CHAPTER IX. 

INSPECTION OF SCHOOLS. 

Maulavi Abdul Karim's inspection of schools had 
a specialty of its own. While other inspecting officers 
generally did not spend more than a day in inspecting a 
school, he devoted two and sometimes three days to 
the inspection of a high English School. After a 
thorough examination of the classes and the records, he 
used to hold a conference of teachers in order to let 
them know where he found them wanting and how they 
could make up their deficiencies. Occasionally he also 
held a conference of guardians and teachers to discuss 
the requirements of the school. Besides, he granted 
interviews to the best students and freely talked with 
them. Sometimes he spoke to particular guardians 
about their wards. All this produced a salutary effect in 
the locality where the school was situated. Babu 
Kunjabehari Bose, Personal Assistant to the Director of 
Public Instruction, who was interested in the Barasat 
High English school, used to say that when M. Abdul 
Xarim visited that school even the women folk in the 
locality discussed among themselves what their children 
reported to them. When M. Abdul Karim's tour pro- 
gramme was published a sensation prevailed in the 
locality which he intended to visit. 
Eef erring to a conference of guardians held on the occa- 
sion of the inspection of the Noakhali Zilla school 



INSPECTION OF SCHOOLS 86 

a correspondent of the "Bengalee" wrote in its issue 
of 22nd August, 1903, 

"Altogether the conference was a very interesting, 
needful and profitable function. The conference was a 
new one of its kind, and the learned Inspector deserved 
the thanks of the public for starting such an original 
idea. We have known Inspectors who only care for 
halting allowances and whose so-called inspection 
consists in making a state progress through the school 
classes attended by the retinue of teachers. The learned 
Moulvie evinced the deepest interest in the welfare 
of the boys, and for once teachers and students and 
guardians were impressed with the importance and use- 
fulness of an Inspector of Schools," 

THE "PEOPLE AND PRATIBASHI" WROTE We are 
used to mechanical officials. Very few are in the 
habit of making any departure from the system of 
routine work to which they succeed. But Moulvie 
Abdul Karim, the Inspector of Schools for Chittagong, 
is, we understand, quite a new sort of man. He 
seems to be a man inspired with a higher sense of duty 
than what is to be found in the ordinary run. He does 
the mechanical work, which of course must be done, 
but he does something more, he investigates the causes 
of arrested progress and inspires others with hi& 
own ideal of work. . . . This is a singular method of 
work. We don't know what result it will yield. Most 
probably it will not be appreciated in this country 
wherp ideals of duties are hopelessly low , but it is a 
great satisfaction to us that there are in the Education 
Department men with such conception of duties/' 



86 LIFE OF A. KABIBf 

The following is a summary of an inspection "Note" 
of Maulavi Abdul Karim, recorded in the Visitors* 
Book of a school. The full "Note" was printed in the 
form of a circular and sent to all High schools in his 
jurisdiction, so that teachers and managers of schools 
might know what was required of them: 

I visited the School yesterday and to-day. 

NUMERICAL STRENGTH. I am glad to find 
the numerical strength of the school is steadily 
increasing. There has been appreciable increase 
of pupils since my last visit about a year ago. 
There would have been a larger number of boys 
on the rolls by this time if some newcomers 
had not been refused admission. The last two 
classes have been fast overgrowing their normal 
size and unless they are divided into sections 
more boys cannot be taken into them; the fixed, 
maximum having been already reached. Addi- 
tional accommodation and extra teachers are 
required for this purpose. I think it is undesir- 
able to refuse admission into the only High 
English School in the subdivision at a time when 
the people seem to be just awaking to the 
necessity of English education. . . . The paucity 
of Muhammadan pupils in the school is to be 
regretted.- Steps should be taken to attract to 
the school a large number of Muhammadan boys 
of the neighbourhood, Some free studentships 
may be held out for their attraction. 

SCHOOL RECORDS. On the whole the re- 
cords may be said to have been well kept. But 
the irregularities in the -Admission Register 
are to be regretted. The Headmaster should 
have a thorough knowledge of all the records; 
he should not depend much upon the clerk. The 
accounts should be regularly audited and signed 
by the Secretary. The present practice of check- 



INSPECTION OF SCHOOLS 

ing the accounts when grant-in -aid bills are 
submitted, cannot be approved. The attendance 
Register of teachers showed that some of them 
are not verv punctual in attendance. This is 
to be regretted. Boys should learn the import- 
ant lesson of .punctuality early in life, and it 
should be taught more by personal example 
than by precept. Punctual attendance both in 
the case of teachers and pupils should be strictly 
insisted upon. 

ACCOMMODATION Insufficiency of accom- 
modation is still the most keeiily-f elt want of 
the school. A suitable site has at last been 
acquired and steps are being taken for construct- 
ing the required building.lt is hoped the school 
will have a decent habitation of its own before 
long. The expansion of the school in future 
should be kept in view in building the house and 
the rooms should have accommodation for the 
maximum number of boys fixed for different 
classes by the new Regulations of the Calcutta 
University. 

FINANCIAL CONDITION The school is in a 
solvent condition ; the income covers the ex- 
penditure. The apparent deficit is due to the fact 
that grant- in-aid has not been drawn for some 
months ; when the arrear grant will be drawn 
there will be a monthly surplus. The reserve 
fund amounts to about one thousand rupees. 
This is not sufficient too meet the requirements 
of the school. Efforts should be made to raise 
more funds. The surplus balance should be 
placed in the Savings Bank. 

TfJACHiKe STAFF. It is much to be regret- 
ed that there were so many changes in the tea- 
ching staff during the last session ; so many as 
six of the teachers were appointed in 1910. I 
need hardly say that such changes ate very much 
detrimental to the interests of the school. 



LIFE OF A. KARIM 

Whenever a new appointment is made a proper 
guarantee of the selected candidate's sticking' 
to the post for at least two complete sessions 
should be invariably taken. Only those who 
adopt teaching as a profession and are likely to 
work with heart, should be appointed. Those 
who look upon a teacher's post as a stepping- 
stone to something better or as a halting-place for 
preparation for the Bar, should not be appointed. 
It is most undesirable that men who know little of 
teaching should be taken in, and when they learn 
something of it, and begin to be really useful 
should be allowed to leave the school. 

The Moulvi possesses the requisite attain- 
ments in Arabic & Persian, but his progress in 
English has not been sufficient. Unless he^ 
exerts his best and picks up the requisite know- 
ledge of English before long, I am afraid 
he will have to be replaced by a better qualified 
man. 

The Head Master's work may be judged by 
four criteria, viz., 

(1) Maintenance of proper discipline in the 
school ; 

(2) Progress made by the class or classes 
directly in his charge ; 

[3) Progress made by the classes in charge of 
the Assistant Masters ; 

[4) Results of the University Examination. 

Judged by the first criterion the Head 
Master may be said to have proved fairly suc- 
cessful ; he seems to be gradually getting a tigh- 
ter hold over his pupils, whose behaviour at, 
the time of my inspection was all that was 
desirable. From what I saw of the correction 
of the exercises and performance of the boys 
at my examination, I canot say his work in 
connection with the classes directly in his charge 



INSPECTION OF SCHOOLS 89* 

has been quite up to expectation. As for 
his work of supervision, it has been far from 
satisfactory. He should always bear in mind 
that he is responsible not only for the progress- 
and management of the classes directly in his 
charge but also for the progress and management 
of all the classes in the school. If he lacks tea- 
ching capacity, only his classes suffer, but if 
he be wanting in administrative capacity the 
whole school suffers. The Head Master must 
carefully supervise the work of all his assis- 
tants. He should now and then call for the 
exercise books of a class and look through; 
a certain percentage in order to see how the work 
is done. He should issue instructions to his 
assistants, whenever necessary, regarding the 
method of teaching, class management andl 
other matters, and see that these are faithfully 
carried out. These instructions should be pre- 
served for inspection. Conferences of teachers- 
should be held, at least once a fortnight, in order 
to discuss difficulties and devise means for their 
removal. The proceedings of these conferences- 
should be kept. Judged by the results of the 
University Examinations the Head MasterV 
work may be said to have been satisfactory.. 
Since he has taken charge, the results have been* 
satisfactory both in quantity and quality. A 
fair number of the taught and a large number 
of the candidates have always been successful. 

CORRECTION OF EXERCISE. It is to be re- 
gretted that adequate attention has t ot been 
paid to my instructing regarding the correction 
of exercises. As I pointed out a "mistake un- 
corrected is a mistake confirmed/' No mistake- 
should be left unconnected. Besides, mistakes 
should not be merely counted but also weighed, 
and attention should be given to them in pro- 
portion to their gravity. The time at the dis- 



90 LIFE OF A. 

posal of the boys should be taken note of, and 
only as much exercise should be set as may be 
thoroughly done by them ; hurried work must be 
-discouraged. 

HEAD MASTER'S DIARY. I showed the 
Head Master a copy of the diary kept by the 
Head Master of the Pirojpore school. A similar 
diary should be kept by him. His criticisms of 
the work of his assistants and the instructions 
given by him should be regularly written. A 
separate book should be kept for every quarter, 
at the end of which it may be called for by me 
for inspection. It will show how the Assistant 
Masters do their work, whether the Head Master 
properly supervises it, what instructions he gives 
and how far these are carried out. 

PuFPARAno.v OF TEACHERS. The teachers 
as a body do not know much of the Art of 
Teaching. Unless they make a systematic study 
of the subject, they cannot make themselves 
much useful. The important works on the Art 
of Teaching should be purchased and these 
should be carefully studied by the teachers. , . 
The teachers must carefully prepare at home the 
lessons they have to give at school. No lesson, 
however simple, should be given without ade- 
quate preparation. The teacher's knowledge 
^of the subject must not be confined to text-books, 
it should be far ahead of the class programme. 
Notes for class use should be carefully written, 
keeping the capacity of the class in view, and 
these should be clearly written and preserved 
for inspection. 

CO-OPERATION BETWEEN TEACHERS AND TEA- 
CHERS, AND BETWEEN TEACHERS AND GlJARDI- 

ANH.~ It is essentially necessary that there should 
be unanimity and cordiality among all the 
teachers. They should teach boys ESPIRIT DB 
CORPS more by personal examples than by prer- 



INSPECTION OF SCHOOLS 9l 

-cepts. The good of the whole school and not 
merely of the class in his charge, should be in 
the heart of every teacher. They should hearti- 
ly co-operate with one another and contribute 
to the success of the school as much and as best 
as each of them can. The relation between the 
Head Master and his assistants should be like 
that of an elder brother and his younger bro- 
thers. The former should be kind and consi- 
derate, but watchful and unsparing in making the 
latter do their duties, while the Jatter should be 
respectful and submissive, and they should 
promptly and willingly carry out instructions. If 
there be difference in any matter, it should be 
settled in a friendly talk in which .things may 
be easily explained and not by strict enforce- 
ment on the one hand or active opposition on 
the other. 

The co-operation of the guardians must 
be sought and secured. It should be remember- 
ed that boys are at school, under the teacher, 
only for 5 i^ours, while they are at home, with 
their guardians, for 19 hours. Unless both the 
teachers and the guardians co-operate much 
good cannot be expected. The class master 
should know the guardians of his pupils, should 
meet them as frequently as possible, should speak 
and write to them about the progress and be- 
haviour of their wards. 

CLASS PROMOTION. Class promotion has 
not been judicious. Some boys have been pro- 
moted to classes for which they are not fit. 
This is to be regretted. It should be borne in 
mind that indiscriminate promotion of boys 
seriously tells upon the efficiency and disci- 
pline of a school. EUrJly any good is done to 
unfit boys who are promoted to higher classes. 
But the good boys suffer ; the presence t>f unfit 
boys in a class hampers its progress. I find in 



LIFE OF A. KARtM 

some cases boys have been promoted simply 
because they have been in a class for two ses- 
sions, as if length of stay in a class is a sufficient 
reason for promotion. 1 think when a boy fails 
to qualify himself for promotion on two occa- 
sions, he proves his unfitness not once but twice 
and he must not be promoted to a higher class. 

PHYSICAL EXERCISE.-- 1 saw some boys at 
drill. They acquitted themselves fairly. The 
Drill Master seems to know his business welL 
He should bear in mind the object of school 
drill. Boys should learn prompt obedience to 
command, activity and agilitv in doing things,, 
combination and co-oporatioii in simultaneous 
performances. They must not be permitted to- 
do any exercise carelessly and slovenly. It 
should be seen that they concentrate their atten- 
tion on the muscle or part of the body, the 
development of which is intended by a parti- 
cular exercise. It should be remembered that 
it is for the sake oi a sound mind that a sound 
body is required. The object of physical exer- 
cise is not to add to brute force, but to preserve 
the body in a healthy condition so that the 
mind may perform its function properly. Those 
boys who are exceptionally studious should 
invariably take part in physical exercise. The 
constitution of the boys should be taken into- 
consideration in selecting exercises and games 
for them. As a very hard game or exercise 
may do harm to a weak constitution, all boys 
should not be required to undergo all kinds of 
exorcises or to play all sorts of games. 

KESULT OF CLAS.S EXAMINATION. The result 
of my examination of the classes was not what 
it should have been. This seems to be chiefly 
due to want of good method of teaching and 
lack of proper supervision of the work of the 
teacher e. . . English and other subjects have not 



INSPECTION OF SCHOOLS 93 

l)een taught according to conversational method, 
313 instructed, and little use seems to be made 
of the Black-board in class-teaching. . . 

I talked to the teachers at some length on 
the method of teaching different subjects. The 
difference between a scholar and a teacher 
bhould be always borne in mind. Mere acade- 
mical attainments do not make a successful tea- 
cher. A schoolmaster may possess a sound 
knowledge of a subject, but he cannot be suc- 
cessful as a teacher unless he has the capacity 
nnd acquires the skill of communicating that 
knowledge to others. At home the teachers 
should thoroughly prepare the lessons and at 
school they should work like men and not like 
machines. They should take note of the tem- 
perament and capacity of the boys and suit 
their teaching to these. The exceptionally 
smart boys and the dullards should not be taught 
in the same manner. The conversational me- 
thod should be invariably adopted ; no lesson 
should be formally given until the subject- 
matter is well-talked over in the class. A 
subject should be intelligently taught with a 
view to develop the intelleciual faculties and 
.not merely to cultivate the memory and to feed 
the mind wih a mass of ill-digested facts. A 
language is learnt more by speaking it and 
hearing it 8poken than by the study of its vo- 
cabulary and grammar. Speaking in English 
by the boys among themselves and with the 
teachers should be issisted upon from Class 
"VI. upwards, if not fro n a lower class. The 
r direct method of teaching a foreign language 
should be tried in some of the classes. 

It should be note! that we do not come 
every time to talk. Serious notice will be 
taken if the instructions given are disregarded. 
Teachers of some standing seem to be too wed- 



94 LIFE OF A. KAR1M 

ed to their old ways to take sufficient note 
of what they are told about modern methods^ 
This cannot be tolerated. If a teacher be un- 
willing or unable to carry out instructions 
given him by his superiors, he must make room 
for a better man. It is hoped that in a matter 
of such vital importance- -the proper education 
of their own children and their neighbour's 
children the managers will rise above all 
persona] feelings, and the interests of the 
school, involving the interests of hundreds of 
boys* will not be sacrificed for the interests of 
particular individuals. 

The following is the summary of a letter which M 
Abdul Karim wrote to one of the officials under him 
who asked for his permission to inspect high schools in 
his circle : 

Camp Patuakhali, 
12-2-11. 

"... A better system of examination meant to be a 
searching test of knowledge has been introduced and it 
is intended that the old mechanical method of teaching 
which feeds the mind with facts that cannot be easily 
digested and cultivates the memory to an extent that is 
far from desirable, should give place to an intelligent 
method calculated to develop the intellectual faculties. 
Btit these changes cannot avail much unless our teachers 
and inspectors (teachers of teachers) also change. . . . 
Yott sore perhaps aware that I have made the subject my 
special study, but so much light is being thrown on it 
fcy modern researches and so many new things are being 
pressed oa our attention everyday that inrittx all my 
efforts I fond myself unable to keep abreast of the times. 



INSPECTION OF SCHOOLS 95 

So you see how studious and observant one must be to* 
be up to date. My "Hints on School Management and 
Met hod of Teaching" was written about three years ago. 
Although it has been approved and is in use in different 
parts of India, 1 wish I had not written it then with 
my limited knowledge of the subject. I have learnt so 
many things after its publication that several parts of 
the book have to be rewritten in order to be really 
useful. Its first edition has been exhausted, and I am 
revising it for its second edition. Thus if an officer be 
not a constant and careful reader of the ever-increasing 
literature on the subject ai-d if he has not his eyes and 
ears wide open, he cannot be very useful. Nothing is 
so fata] to the usefulness of an educational officer as 
self-sufficiency. If he thinks he knows all that is worth 
knowing, he will never learn many things which he 
should know. Unless I am satisfied that an officer under 
me realises the gravity of the situation and he is really 
alive to his responsibility, I feel much hesitation in 
entrusting him with the inspection of schools in my 
charge. ... I think every officer engaged in the noble 
work of education should be animated by a high sense 
of duty and actuated by a solemn sense of responsiblity, 
and th e approbation of his conscience in having perform- 
ed his duties to the best of his abilities shouid.be his 
high est reward. . . . They should bear in mind that they 
hold in their hands the leading-strings of the nation, 
and they can make or mar its future prospects. For,. 
they have to mould the intellect, the conscience and 
the character of the future generations of their country- 
men, and couutry women. In fact no great ii 



D6 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

or moral change in the country can take place unless 
it is brought about by them. There is no other profession 
that affords greater opportunities of usefulness and 
there is no labour that is fraught with more momen- 
tuous results. . . . , The students of today will be the 
citizens of tomorrow, and the students all over the 
country taken together will from the nation. Thus 
the most responsible work of nation-building is in 
the hands of educational officers. The inspection of 
a school in order to be really useful must be thorough. 
I do not think a high school can be thoroughly inspect- 
ed unless at least two or three days are devoted to it. 
A glance at the school records and a walk through 
the classes, putting a question here and a question there, 
is certainly not inspection. I am not at all in favour 
of such hurried inspection, which unnecessarily dislo- 
cates class work and leaves an undesirable impression 
on the minds of the teachers that defects may escape 
the notice of inspecting officers/ ' 

It WAS but natural that examination such as that 
held by M. Abdul Karim on the occasion of his inspec- 
tion of schools should so deeply impress the students 
examined that they remembered it throughout their life. 
On certain occasions some of those examined by him 
in schools were heard to refer, thirty or even forty years 
after, to the effect produced on them. Some time ago 
in a gathering to meet Pandit Madan Mohan Malavya 
at Birla park, M. Abdul Karim coming to know that 
the renowned Mr. Rajeudra Prasad of Patna was* pre- 
sent there, asked a gentleman to introduce him to 
Rajendra Babu. When he was approached, Rajendra Babu 



INSPECTION OF SCHOOLS 9t 

stood up with folded bauds and said "I remember Huzur 
examined me in the Chapra Zilla school." Khan Bahadur 
Azizul Huq, present Vice-chancellor of he Calcutta 
University, was heard to say, on more occasions than 
3ae, that he was not certain if he would have been 
given high education if M. Abdul Karim, after ex- 
amining him in the Sautipur Middle Madrasah, had 
not told his guardian how well he had acquitted himr 
^elf t his examination aud how desirable it was that 
he should be admitted into a high English school. 

In December, 1938, M. Abdul Karim accidentally 
met at Madhupur Captain Dr. D. C. Majumdar. He 
told him that he would never forget how he was ex- 
amined by him in the fifth class of the Netrokana high 
English school in 1902. But for that impressive ex- 
amination, he said, neither he nor his brother, Mr* 
Surendra Chandra Mijumdar, Professor of History, 
Presidency College, nor several others among whom 
was Mr. Sachindrakumar Roy, advocate High Court, 
could have learnt so well the subjects, particularly 
English, in which they Were examined by him. In fact 
he said, the whole atmosphere of the school was chang- 
ed by that one inspection and both teachers and 
students had learnt many things whioh they did not 
know before and would not have known after. The then 
Secretary to the school, Rai Nikhilnath Roy Bahadur, 
retired District Magistrate, held a meeting of the 
teachers and discussed with them the instructions given 
by the Inspector and insisted upon their following those 
instructions carefully. The good result attained . by 
the school for some time at the university examination 
7 



98 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

was ascribed by Dr. Majumdar to this inspection of 
the school. He concluded what he had to say with 
the words "Sir, your name is still gratefully remembered 1 
throughout the Sub-di vision " Numerous are such 
statements made by those examined in schools by M. 
Abdul Karim and now occupying good positions in life. 

On the occasion of his visits addresses were pre- 
sented to M. Abdul Karim by some of the schools. 
The following is the summary of two addresses presen~ 
ted to him, one by a school in his jurisdiction and the 
other by a school at Kailashahar, out of his juris- 
diction . 
"Sir, 

We, the members of the Managing Committee of 
the Baburhat H. E. School, beg to offer you our hearty 
and respectful welcome on the auspicious occasion of 
your first visit to our school. 

As a veteran educationist, a worthy member of the 
Senate of the Calcutta University, a most active and 
energetic Inspector of Schools and an erudite scholar^ 
your name has become a byword With those who are 
liny way connected with the Education Department. . . . 
Every circular, that emanated from you, bears the mark 
of your reforming hand for which we have a profound 
respect. Your organisations of the conferences of 
of Deputy Inspectors, guardians and teachers have 
been the success they were sure to be, and these have 
had much salutary effects as will make your nam# 
endure. 

Your solicitude for the welfare of the stud'ent com- 
munity is evinced by the lively interest you always 



INSPECTION OF SCHOOLS 9$> 

take for the amelioration of their moral status. It ift 
to be highly regretted that a considerable deterioration 
in the morals of the school population has been 
perceptible almost everywhere in this benighted Di- 
vision. But the rare activity and strict vigilance, 
which you have been showing in your attemps to 
eradicate the evil, has excited the unstinted admiration 
of the intelligent public and it is hoped that ere long 
moral depravity among students will be a thing of the 
past. We hope and trust that your tenure of office will 
be a long and epoch-making one in the Division. . . 

28th July, 1904. 

The Members of the Managing Committee of "Kadha- 
Kishore Institution/' Kailashahar, Tripura, stated in 
their address "though situated in the hills, so far off 
from your jurisdiction, yet we none the less appreciate 
the value of the strict discipline and method introduced 
by you in the schools under your supervision, and the 
rare activity and vigilance shown by you to promote the 
existing moral condition of the student community 
and to help them to be honest and useful citizens/' 

Many correspondents of newspapers wrote from 
time to time in the strain of the following letter written 
to the Moslem Chronicle by a correspondent from 
Chuadanga : 

Maulvi Abdul Karim, B,A., has quite justified hte 
appointment as Assistant Inspector of .Muhammadan 
Education, Presidency and Orissa Divisions, by creating 
an interest among the Muhammadans of the place in 
the spread of English Education among them. In Ms 
late visit to this part 6f thfc District, his unique method 



100 



LIFE OF A. KARIM 



of examination has given satisfaction to the teachers as 
well as to the boys with whom his name has become a 
term of endearment. There is no difference of opinion 
as to his merits and ability with which he inspected 
several schools of the locality. The Muhammadan com- 
munity is prond of having such an able officer in the 
Education Department, who spares no pains to pave the 
,way for the improvement of Muhammadans in diff ernt 
branches of studies. It admits of no doubt that such 
a meritorious officer will prove an efficient hand in 
raising the status of the Muhammadans in the eyes of 
the Hindus. . . The Muhammadan community of this 
place through the medium of your esteemed journal con- 
veys a vote of thanks to the Assistant Inspector for the 
lovely interest he takes in infusing a regenerating spirit 
into the society itself." 

That Maulavi Abdul Karim's views regarding the 
prevailing system of education were appreciated by 
well-known educationists will be seen from the following 
remarks made by Sir P. C. Roy in an article on "The 
Bread problem and the unemployment of young Muslims 
published in the twenty-first anniversary number tff the 
"Mussalman." : 

"I cannot better conclude this article than in the 
words of Moulvi Abdul Karim, who has bestowed much 
thought and attention upon the subject and who very 
pertinently observed in his recent address at Narayan- 
gaiij that "the present system of education, although in 
operation for a long time, has not made the cultivators 
better cultivators nor the artisans more efficient artisans 
than they were before. On the contrary, it has made 



INSPECTION OF SCHOOLS 101 

their condition worse by creating in them a distaste for 
manual labour and for their hereditary callings and 
mode of living and, what is more to be regretted, by 
fostering an artifical taste for fashions and fineries. 
Thus they accelerate rather than retard the decadence 
of indigenous industries and thus help to aggravate 
the economic difficulty of the country*" 



CHAPTER X. 

LAST PERIOD OF SERVICE On the expiry of his 
ieave, M. Abdul Karim, unwilling to go back to Chit* 
tagong, went to Dacca as Second Inspector of Schools 
and stayed there till his retirement in 1912. The last 
period of his service was rather uneventful and also 
unpleasant. Much of his time was taken up by en- 
quiries regarding recognition of schools by the Uni- 
versity and correspondence with the higher officers 
owing to differences with them. He had the misfortune 
of losing from time to time some of those who were very 
friendly to him. The premature death of Nawab Sir Ahsaii 
Ullah and Sir John Woodburn and the rasignation of 
Sir Bamfylde Fuller proved detrimental to his interests. 
On his last posting to Dacca, he found a very friendly 
Director of Public Instruction in Mr Browning. But 
shortly after, Mr. Browning suddenly died and M. 
Abdul Karim had to come in contact with unsympathe- 
tic officers with whom he could not pull on well. 
In fact during the whole period of his service he was 
never in such a predicament, There was, however, one 
relieving thing, friendship with the late Nawab Sir 
Salimullah, who had great regard for him, and always 
addressed him as "Huzur" and never smoked in his 
presence. He used to see him when he had differences 
with his father and on succeeding to the Zamindary 
and the little on his father's death, he always consulted 
M. Abdul Karim not only in public affairs but also 



LAST PERIOD OF SERVICE 

in some of his private concerns. When he learnt 
of M. Abdul Karira's intention to retire early on 
account of. differences with his superior officers, he 
gave him to understand that he would do all he 
could for him if he entered public life. When he 
heard of M. Abdul Karim's intention to make an 
endowment, he urged him to do the needful as soon as 
possible, so that it might not remain unfulfilled as in the 
case of a Zamindar of Barisa], who after making such an 
announcement did not give effect to it. All this was 
known to Khwaja Muhammad Azam, one of the senior 
surviving members of the Nawab family, who himself 
holds M. Addul Karim in highest esteem. 

The only important public affair in which M . 
Abdul Karim took part during the last period of his 
service was the annual session of the All-India MaBo- 
medan Educational Conference held at Dacca, in which 
Tiis friend, Nawab Sir Salimullah, took a very prominent 
part in consultation with him. There he met not only 
some of those whose acquaintance he had made in 1900 
3it the Calcutta session of the Conference, but many 
other distinguished Muslims who came from different 
parts of India to lay the foundation of the Muslim Lea- 
gue. As usual with him on such occasions he took an ac- 
tive part in the proceedings qf the Conference. 

In July 1912 all on a sudden M. Abdul Karim got 
seriously ill. One day for about fifteen hours he was 
speechless and not even; a drop of wkte* could be pour- 
ed doTfrt his throat during that tinfe. When he was 
in thiB state of coma, a rumour spread widely: that he 
-was dead and many people came to attend* the ffeneral. 
late Maulvi Matlub Ahmad told people that 



It4 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

seeing the patient in that serious condition while he was? 
going down, he met on the stairs the late Qazi Alauddin 
Ahmad, father-in-law of Nawabzada Latifur Rahman, 
who enquired of him when the funeral procession would 
start and was told that life was not yet extinct. Eighteen 
years after, when M. Abdul Karim was on a visit 
to Dacca, where he was invited by Mr. Abul Muzaffar 
Ahmad, retired District Judge, to preside over the 
animal meeting of the Islamia Education Trust and the 
prize-giving ceremony of the Islamia Education Trust 
High English school at Narain gunge, he took part in 
the funeral ceremony of the late Qazi Alaaddin Ahmad. 
Before M- Abdul Karim was out of sick-bed, a Chitta- 
gorg gentleman insisted upon seeing him. When called 
to the bed-side he related that he was coming from 
Chittagong and when he reached Chaudpur, he saw in 
an open space, near the station, a large gathering of 
Muslims in a praying posture. Curiosity took him there 
and he learnt that M. Abdul Karim was dead and they 
had assembled there to pray for him. He also took 
part in the prayer. On reaching Dacca, however, he 
learnt that M. Abdul Karim was alive and could not 
resist the desire of seeing him. Reports came from 
Goila and some other places that the schools there were 
closed in honour of M. Abdul Karim's death. All this- 
stows how very popular he was v 

Maulvi Abdul Karim's early retirement from Qor- 
ernment Service was referred to in eulogistic t^rms by 
several newspapers. The following is a quotation front 
the "Miresalman." 



LAST PERIOD OF SERVICE 

""the retirement of Moulvi Abdul Karim, Assistant 
Inspector of Schools, Dacca Division, has removed a 
notable figure from the ranks of educational officers, 
belonging to the Provincial Service. He was first ap- 
pointed, in July 1886, as an assistant Master in the 
Anglo-Persian Department of the Calcutta Madrassah 
whence he was transferred to Dacca as an Assistant 
Inspector of Schools for Mohamedan Education, in the 
year 1890. The last appointment he held is well-known 
to the reader. Throughout his career Moulvi Abdul 
Karim discharged his duties to the complete satisfaction 
of the Government and the public. Able, independent 
and pains-taking, Moulvi Abdul Karim won the golden 
opinion of the community to which he belongs. Hia 
services to the cause of education, and specially of 
Mohamedan education, have been immense. His recomr* 
men, elation s to Government, regarding reforms in educa- 
tion and the special needs and requirements of the 
Mohamedans, were generally accepted, and most of his 
official superiors had a high opinion of him. Now that 
he has retired from official life, we hope he will devote 
the rest of his days to the service of the community,, 
and his mature experience will, we trust, contribute to 
the educational progress and advancement of t '. 
Mussalmans. Though retired from Government service 
Moulvi Abdul Karim is not so old as to be unfit for" 
work and we fervently hope he will lend his services 
fco ! the community with readiness and alacrity. Tha 
Miissalman Sept. 11, 1914. 

Even while M. Abdul , Karim was in that critical 
state all hope of his survival was not given up as two 



106 LIFE OF A. KABTM 

eminent spiritualists had given assurance that he would 
not die. The late Ahsan Ali Shah Sahib of Mnsarikhola 
seeing him in that condition said that there was no 
fear of death. M. Abdul Karim's MUUSKED, the late 
Maulana Qhulam Salmani Sahib, sent word from 
Calcutta that the crisis was over. As he himself sud- 
denly died within a few days, M. Abdul Karin has 
all along been under an impression that, as he loved 
him dearly, hfe might have performed Salb,* and this 
might have brought about fatality. For about two 
months M. Abdul Karim could not stir out of the 
flick-bed. He was reduced to a mere skeleton, and 
he had to crawl for some time before he was in a 
position to stand. The late Nawab Sir Salimullah was 
in much anxiety for M. Abdul Karirn. When he heard 
that M. Abdul Karim was out of danger, he thought 
that he might have to proceed on long le*ve. So he 
expressed a desire to hold a conference regarding 
Muhammadan Education before M. Abdul Karim left 
Dacca. A conference was held in his sick-room, 
when he was not in a position to stir out of it. Besides, 
Nawab Sir Salimullah, the late Nawab Nawab Ali 
Chaudhury Mr (now Nawab Bahadur) Abdul Karim 
Qhuzanavi and other leading Muslims present at the 
time at Dacca, attended the meeting, at which several 

*8alb is a spiritual exercise by which one may draw 
upon oneself the ailment of another, as was done by 
Babar when Humayun was seriously ill. If performed 
with due care and caution, there is no risk, but any 
alight mistake may endanger the life of the performer. 



LAST PERIOD OF SERVICE 107 

matters connected with Muhammadau Education were 
discussed in M. Abdul Karim's presence. 

On recovery Maulavi Abdul Karim proceeded on 
furlough and went to Ranchi, where he had purchased 
a large plot of land. During his stay there he built 
a fine house, which was christened "Peace Cottage," 
inhere he thought of enjoying peace after a strenuous 
life of action. As will be seen from what followed, he 
^was not destined to enjoy a peaceful life. 611 the expiry 
of his furlough he retired on pension. Thus ended 
Maulvi Abdul Karim's official career at the age of 49 
years. Finding the climate of Ranchi agreeable, he 
thought of passing there the remaining days of his life. 
But destined, as he was, to play an active part in the 
social and political life of Bengal, he could not stay 
there long. His retired life at Ranchi was enlivened 
by association with some friends, such as the late Mr. 
Jyotirindraiiath Tagore, brother of Poet Tagore, the late 
Mr P. N. Bose, father-in-law of Sir B. L. Mittra, the 
late Babu Kantibhushan Sen, the late Babu Kalipada 
Qhosh, the late Babu Jagadish Chandra Roy, the late 
Dr. J. N. Bose, the late Sir Fakhruddin, the late Khan 
Bahadur Muhiuddin Ahmad and Maulana Abul Kalam 
Azad, who had to reside at Ranchi for some time. 

As will be seen from Part II. of his biography, 
Maulavi Abdul Karim was busy during his short stay 
at Ranchi in forming plans for social and political work 
to which he subsequently devoted himself for about a 
quarter of a century. 



PART II. 
SOCIAL AND POLITICAL SERVICE. 



CHAPTER I. 
ENDOWMENT OF RUPEES FIFTY THOUSAND. 

After his retirement from government service the 
first thing to which Maulavi Abdul Karim devoted his 
attention was the endowment he was thinking for some 
time to make. As for about three years he could not leave 
Ranchi on account of ill-health and being engaged in 
building a residential garden house at Morhabadi, the best 
place in the northern suburb 4>f Ranchi, it was in March, 
1916, that he came to Calcutta and had the Wnkf Namah 
drawn up by the late Mr. A. Rasul, Bar-at-Law, and the 
late Prince Sultan-i-Alam, Attorney-at-Law. Two pro- 
perties, 13/1, Wellesley Square and 11/5, Karaya Bazar 
Road (at present North Range) worth about Rupees Fifty 
thousand and yielding an annual income of about 
fes. 2,soo/- were endowed. After payment of Government 
revenue, Municipal taxes and collection charges and 
necessary repairs, the income was to be spent as follows : 
"One-half of income is to be devoted to the promotion of 
Muhamirfadan education and the other half to Islamic 
work. One-half of the former, that is one-fourth of the 



2 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

total income, is to be expended for the benefit of bona fide 
Muhammadan students of Sylhet. Out of the amount to 
be devoted to the promotion of Muhammadan education a 
number of scholarships shall be awarded to deserving 
Muhammadan students, who after receiving sufficient 
Arabic education and after passing the Matriculation 
examination are desirous of prosecuting further education 
in a College, provided that if at any time for lack of 
deserving candidates the whole of this amount cannot be 
spent then stipends shall be awarded to candidates for 
teachership or students reading for technical or engineering 
or medical examinations or preparing for the M. A. exami- 
nation. Provided also that, if funds permit, assistance may 
also be given occasionally to School, College and Madrasah 
students for the purchase of books or for payment of 
examination fees. In administering the said fund the 
Mutawalli or the Committee shall satisfy himself or them- 
selves that the persons to whom assistance is given are 
really in poor circumstances and are of good character and 
that they from time to time make satisfactory progress in 
their studies and the recipients of such stipends shall be 
given to understand that such stipends will be in the 
nature of Qarz-i-Hasna t and that they shall be required 
to contribute to the fund of the said Wakf property or to 
similar funds when they shall be in a position to do so, 
and the other half of the income of the said Wakf property 
shall be spent for the promotion and furtherance of 
Islamic work, viz., for training religious teachers and 
preachers, for composition and translation of religious 
books and tracts, for aiding Qoran and other religious 
schools, and generally for Islamic Mission work \ . . and 
should not spend any amount out of the said fund on 



ENDOWMENT OF RUPEES FIFTY THOUSAND 3 

anything that may be contrary to the doctrines of the 
Hanafii sect." 

The following letter was issued for holding a meeting 
to thank Maulvi Abdul Karim for his munificent 
<endowment : 

Calcutta, the 9th April, 1916. 
DEAR SIR, 

A public meeting of the Mussulmans of Calcutta will take 
place on Wednesday, the 12th April at 6-30 P.M. at the Overtoun 
Hall, 86, College Street, under the presidency of the Honourable 
Nawab Syed Nawab Ally Chowdhury to thank Moulvi Abdul 
Karim for his munificent Endowment of Rs. 50,000 for Mahome- 
dan Education and Islamic Work. 

Your faithfully, 

SERAjuiy ISLAM 
A. K. FAZI,UI, HUQ 
A. RASUI, 
NAJMUDDIN AHMAD 

A largely-attended meeting, in the organisation of 
which Nawabzada A. F. M. Abdul AH took an active part, 
was held in the Overtoun Hall and speeches were delivered 
by some of the gentlemen present thanking Maulvi Abdul 
Karim for his munificent endowment. One of the speakers, 
the late Hakim Muhammad Shabbir, is said to have 
remarked that the Maulvi Sahib deserves more credit than 
even the late Haji Muhammad Mohsin because the 
former has several children while the latter had none. 

The following are some of the remarks made by 
newspapers regarding the Wakf : 

"Maulavi Abdul Karim's contemplated endowment of 
Rs. 50,000 has now become an accomplished fact and as might 



4 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

be expected, the cause of Mahomedan education in Sylhet, the 
land of his birth, receives a legitimate place in its dispensation. 
Maulvi Abdul Karim was not born with a silver spoon in his 
mouth and does not surely rank with the possessors of long' 
purses and broad acres as they go in the country. On the 
contrary, he perhaps parts with his hard-earned limited resources, 
depriving his successors of a considerable portion of the heritage 
to which they naturally aspired. For this reason if for no 
other this princely gift has a significance all its own and 
invests its donor with a character for piety and philanthropy so 
rare in Bengal and Assam. Sylhet is proud to claim in Maulavi 
Abdul Karim a distinguished son and a great benefactor of his. 
fellowmen." The Eastern Chronicle, 14-3-16. 

"Retired Inspectors of Schools are not ordinarily endowed 
with a superfluity of the good things of the world. Their pay 
never rises beyond the modest limit, so that usually they can- 
not save much during their service. To the credit of Bengal, 
however, it must be acknowledged that one retired Hindu 
Inspector of Schools had left nearly the whole of his savings, 
amounting to over one lakh of rupees, for the encouragement of 
Sanskrit education and the Bishwanath Chatuspathi will certainly 
perpetuate the memory of its Brahmin founder, the late illustrious 
Bhudeb Mookerji. And now, Moulvi Abdul Karim, another 
retired Inspector of Schools, has followed Bhudev's example by 
making an endowment of half a lakh of Rupees for the promo- 
tion of Mahomedan education and for carrying on Islamic 
religious work. The Mahomedan community of Bengal has. 
produced many Nawabs, but we venture to think that this retired 
Inspector of Schools has proved a greater benefactor to his co- 
religionists than dozens of Nawabs and other Mahomedan titled 
personages put together." The Hindoo Patriot, 11-3-16. 

In his presidential address delivered at the Annual 
Conference of the Sylhet Moslem Students' Association, 
held at Sunamganj in May^ 1917, the Hon'ble* Maulavi 
(now Sir) Syed Mumammad Saadullah, Ex-premier of 



ENDOWMENT OF RUPEES FIFTY THOUSAND 5 

Assam, made the following remarks regarding Maulavi 
Abdul Karim's endowment : 

"I think, with your Association, a new dawn is coming over 
Moslem Sylhet, and another hopeful sign of the times is the 
princely donation of Maulvi Abdul Karim, one of your greatest 
sons, a name that any country and society may be proud of, for 
the cause of Moslem education. A few more Anjumans like 
yours, and a few more examples of the magnanimity shown by 
Maulvi Abdul Karim and the dark night for Sylhet will be over. 
I wish many of our aristocracy and middle class gentry will follow 
with alacrity the good use of money made by the learned Maulvi. 
Gentlemen, in the name of the Moslem community of the pro- 
vince, let me offer our heartfelt thanks to him for the magnificent 
gift to Sylhet, and in return let me say Jazak-Allah fiddarain 
khaira "May he be recompensed by the L,ord in both the worlds. " 
The seed which the noble soul has sown has already germinated, 
nay fructified, and another Moslem gentleman from my valley, 
Maulvi Abdul Majid of Gauhati, has endowed a comparatively 
considerable property for the upkeep of a Maktab,' wherein 
hundreds of youngsters are getting free religious primary educa- 
tion." The Light. 

Maulavi Muhammad Yaqub Khan, Editor of the 
"Light" of Lahore, writes in the "Light" of March 3, 

1935 : 

"A Grand Old Man. A very inspiring personality from whom 
I received great encouragement, sympathy and help was the 
well-known Maulvi Abdul Karim, M.I/.C. Those who know any- 
thing of Bengal will appreciate that I have fitly described this 
venerable old gentleman, whose silvery Islamic beard and general 
Islamic fervour are reminiscent of that great school of Sir Syed 
Ahmad, Hali and Shibli, as the Grand Old Man of Calcutta. 
There is hardly any public activity in Bengal in which you do 
not find Maulvi Abdul Karim figure. If you go to Calcutta and 
-come back without meeting this elderly patriarchal personality 
you may 'take it that you have missed half the public life of 
Calcutta. Having retired as an Inspector of Schools, Maulvi 



6 UFE OF A. KARIM 

Sahib has devoted not only his old worn-out limbs to the service 
of his people but also the hoarding of a life-time. He has made 
waqf of Rs. 50,000, the proceeds of which are spent on the 
education of the poor, on the relief of the orphans and the 
widows and on Ishaat-i-Islam. Here is an old man who should 
serve as a model and inspiration for many a youth of Islam." 

The following notice was published in newspapers 
when the Wakf deed was about to be prepared : 

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR ARABIC SCHOLARS. 

Ten scholarships of Rs. 10 each will be awarded to poor 
students who after receiving Arabic education passed the Matricu- 
lation Examination and have joined or intend to join a College 
with a view to prepare themselves for the LA. Examination. The 
scholarships, for the present, will be tenable for two years on 
the usual conditions of satisfactory progress and good behaviour. 
Half of these scholarships will be reserved for the inhabitants- 
of the district of Sylhet. 

Applications should be submitted to the undersigned on or 
before the 15th December, 1915. 

Calcutta, ABDUI, KARIM, 

The 10th Nov., 1915. 26, South Road, Entally,, 

Calcutta. 

At first there was not the required number of 
Maulavi candidates and some of the scholarships were 
awarded to Arts and Science course B.A. and M.A. 
students. Seeing that some of the Maulavies availing 
themselves of Maulavi Abdul Karim's scholarships took 
University degrees and are now holding responsible posts 
in Government Service, the number of Maulavi candidates 
for the scholarships has increased to such an extent that 
the value of the scholarships had to be reduced and even 
then all the candidates cannot be awarded scholarships. 
So, as a rule, stipends are not awarded to other students. 



ENDOWMENT OF RUPEES FIFTY THOUSAND 7 

Some of them are, however, given donations for purchase 
of books and for payment of university examination fees. 

More than rupees twenty-thousand has already been 
given to poor Muslim students only to prosecute their 
studies. If even half of this amount had been refunded 
in accordance with the stipulation of Qarzi-Hasna, a large 
number of poor students could have been aided. It is to 
be regretted that although some of those who received 
assistance from the Wakf Fund are now in good position 
and drawing good pay, they have not contributed any- 
thing to the Wakf Fund, in spite of repeated reminders. 
The students of Bengal are more to blame in this respect 
than the students of Sylhet ; while about twenty-five per 
cent of the latter have refunded what they drew from the 
Wakf Fund, not even two per cent of the former have 
done so. 

Proposal to offer a title. Shortly after the Endow- 
ment was made the Hon'ble Mr. P. C. L,yon, then one 
of the members of the Executive Council, Bengal, who 
had a good opinion of Maulavi Abdul Karim, as will be 
seen from his letters in the following Chapter III, spoke 
highly of M. Abdul Karim and his endowment when 
presiding over the prize distribution of the Calcutta 
Madrasah. He then told his colleague, the late Nawab 
Sir Shamsul Huda, that it was desirable to confer some 
title on Maulavi Abdul Karim. A few days after this, 
Nawab Shamsul Huda met Maulavi Abdul Karim at an 
evening party and took him to his place. There he 
enquired of him if he would like to have some title. 
"Which title' ', enquired Maulavi Abdul Karim. The 
.reply Was "Khan Bahadur." Maulavi Abdul Karim said 
"no", and the Nawab said, "I thought so," In course of 



8 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

the conversation that followed Maulavi Abdul Karim told 
the Nawab that as the title of Khan Bahadur was conferred 
long before on some of those who were at one time his 
subordinates and also on some who were his pupils, 
conference of this title at his age would be no honour to 
him. Mr. Lyon is said to have then told Nawab Shamsul 
Huda that a higher title, that of "Nawab," might be 
conferred, but he did not do anything further in the 
matter. 

Building of Mosques. While in service M. Abdul 
Karim built, at his own cost, a mosque at Pathantola, in 
Sylhet, the village where his family had settled after the 
destruction by fire of the ancestral residential quarters and 
after their removal from Shaikhghat. M. Abdul Karim 
resided there until he passed the University Entrance 
Examination. 

He had another mosque built, by raising subscriptions, 
at Bariatu, the village next to Morhabadi, at Ranchi, 
where he stayed for some years after his retirement. 

Another mosque, built by subscriptions raised by him, 
is at Karaya Bazar, in Calcutta, in the neighbourhood of 
one of his endowed properties, where he resided for some 
time. 

In order to commemorate his late father-in-law, 
Maulana Hafiz Muhammad Hatim Sahib, M. Abdul 
Karim had the name of the Gaburteki Primary School 
changed into "Hatimia Maktab" and provided it with 
a decent building. On the death of his wife the people 
of Gaburteki, the birth-place of her father, established 
there the "Ayesha Memorial Madrasah" in commemora- 
tion of what she had done for them. 



CHAPTER II. 

EVIDENCE BEFORE ROYAL COMMISSION ON 
PUBLIC SERVICES IN INDIA. 

During his stay at Ranchi, Maulavi Abdul Karim 
utilised his time in giving expression to his views regard- 
ing certain important educational, social and political 
subjects. One of the first subjects he had to deal with 
was the Educational Service, regarding which he gave 
evidence before the Royal Commission on Public Services 
in India, presided over by Lord Islington. He was asked 
to submit a memorandum first. When it was printed the 
Government of Bengal, if our information is correct, 
thought it objectionable and asked the Commission to 
<omit M. Abdul Karim's name from the list of those who 
were selected to give evidence. The late Mr. Gokhale and 
Sir Theodore Morrison, two of the members of the 
Commission, who had read the Memorandum, raised 
objection to this, and M. Abdul Karim was called on behalf 
-of the Commission. Coming to know of all this, several 
gentlemen, such as the late Dr. J. N. Bose, Mr. (now 
Khan Bahadur) Azizul Huq, went to hear M. Abdul 
Karim's evidence. Searching questions were put to him 
by Lord Islington, the late Mr. Macdonald (afterwards 
Premier of the British Empire), the late Mr. Gokhale and 
other members of the Commission. Those who heard 
Jiim were of opinion that he had acquitted himself 



10 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

creditably. The following is a summary of M. Abdul* 
Karim's Memorandum: 

Memorandum 

Method of Recruitment. 

It is not known whether efforts are made, to the desiredJ 
extent, to get the best graduates of the English and other 
European Universities for the Imperial branch of the Educational 
Service. If there is any service that requires the most judicious 
selection of officers it is the Educational Service on account of the 
far-reaching consequences of the important and responsible work 
that has to be done by its members. It is a matter for enquiry 
whether the manner in which officers are at present selected 
for the Imperial branch has any way affected the efficiency of 
that service. People seem to think that there has been a 
perceptible deterioration in respect of the various qualifications 
that go to make successful educationists. It may be ascertained 
by proper enquiry how many officers, at present in the service, 
are of the stamp of Messrs. Woodrow, Sutcliff, Tawney, Croft, 
Clarke, Gough and others, and how far they possess the higrr 
academic attainments, enthusiasm for the profession, zeal for 
the work, devotion to duty, ready accessibility and sympathy 
with those placed in their charge, which characterised the officers- 
named above. 

It may be noted that natives of Bengal have now made much 
progress in education, and some of them have greatly distin- 
guished themselves in some of the important branches of learning. 
A Bose or a Ray or a Seal is well able to hold his own with the 
alumni of any European university in the particular branch of 
learning which he has made the subject of his special study and 
research. Such being the case it is desirable that only such 
reputed European scholars should be appointed to the Imperial 
branch of the Educational Service as, by their attainments and 
devotion to duty, may be in a position to command the respect* 
and regard of the Indian officers with whom they may have to- 
work. Unless their superiority in all these respects is established 1 



EVIDENCE BEFORE ROYAI, COMMISSION II 

an impression may naturally gain ground that it is by virtue of 
their colour that they occupy their responsible posts to the 
exclusion of the natives of the soil. One of the reasons for 
appointing European scholars to the Educational Service in India, 
even if qualified natives of the country are available, seems to 
be that they are intended to serve as models of a high standard 
of efficiency, worthy of imitation and emulation. Unless this 
purpose is served there can be hardly any justification for their 
appointment if there be, in the field, qualified candidates who- 
are natives of India 

System of Training and Probation. 

I am not aware whether the members of the Imperial branch 
of the Educational Service get any training before they enter it. 
From what is seen of their work in the beginning of their service 
it seems that like the members of the other branches of the 
service they do not receive any training worth the name. Unlike 
the members of other services, who are not entrusted with any 
important work until they get well-trained, the officers of the 
Education Department come to their work, which is perhaps 
the most responsible, without any training for it. The teaching 
profession is supposed, it seems, not to need earnest study and 
painstaking practice to learn it, and a good scholar is presumed 
to be necessarily a good teacher. University degrees are conse- 
quently considered the only requisite qualification for a teacher. 
Thus one who is a student to-day is found to be a teacher 
to-morrow; he goes direct from the college bench to the teacher's 
chair, and subsequently learns what little he can of the art of 

teaching at the cost of his pupils Measures recently 

taken for the provision of buildings and furniture and for the 
appointment of a larger number of inspecting officers before 
supplying an adequate number of trained teachers, seem to have 
given rise to some misapprehension. Some people have taken an- 
uncharitable view of the intention of Government, supposing 
that the increase in expenditure for education is meant more for 
show than for really furthering the cause of sound education. 
Adoption of necessary measures for the supply of an adequate 



22 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

number of good teachers and for improving their prospects will 
remove any such misapprehension. No teacher or Inspector should 
;go to his work unless and until he receives the requisite training. 

A number of teachers should be specially selected and trained 
for the work of headmasters. Their training should be some- 
what different from that of other teachers. The headmaster 
besides being an efficient teacher, must be a capable administrator 
.and a strict disciplinarian. All teachers cannot be expected to 
possess all these qualifications. But at present the presumption 
seems to be that almost every teacher is fit to be a headmaster. 
Seniority regulates promotion and, as a rule, the senior assistant 
master, if there is nothing serious against him, is appointed 
headmaster, without inquiry as to whether he possesses the 
special qualifications required for the post. The result has been 
that the headmasters of our schools (barring honourable excep- 
tions) do not possess the requisite qualifications. Have we any 
headmaster like the headmasters of Rugby and Harrow? If not, 
why ? Cannot the natives of India make as good headmasters 
as those veteran educationists, even if they get the necessary 
training and suitable opportunities ? These are questions that 
should engage the serious attention of the authorities as well as 
of the people 

The inspecting officers, who have to deal with a much larger 
number of people than headmasters and principals, should be 
selected with very great care and given a thorough training. No 
officer should be entrusted with the responsible work of inspec- 
tion until he learns how to do it properly and unless he possesses 
exceptional power of discrimination, capacity to command and 
^control, and unless he is tactful, considerate, sympathetic and 
easily accessible. An Inspector's work may be the heaviest or 
lightest possible just as he chooses to make it; he may be so 
very absorbed in his legitimate work that he may have no time 
to think much of anything else, or he may take it so lightly as 
to have ample time for many things more for shooting, picnicing, 
hunting coins and inscriptions, searching for zoological curiosities, 
etc. If an Inspector is to properly inspect schools, carefully 
scrutinising the records, thoroughly examining the classes, giving 



EVIDENCE BEFORE ROYAL COMMISSION 13 

useful instructions to teachers, if he is to hear,, after his inspec- 
tion, what the teachers and the boys may have to say, to hold 
conferences of teachers and guardians at suitable opportunities* 
to check the work of his subordinates and to teach them how 
they are to inspect schools, where is the time to think of any- 
thing else ? If, on the other hand, he glances through the records 
merely with a view to get some figures, walks through the 
classes putting a question here and a question there, and noting 
whether the rooms are kept clean and the furniture are in' 
order, dashes off a few lines of remarks embodying statistics- 
rather than criticisms and instructions, declines to meet teachers 
and refuses to grant interviews to guardians and others, why 
should he not find time for anything for which he may take a 
fancy? I need hardly say that an inspecting officer should 
devote all his time, attention, and energies to the performance of 

his legitimate duties Formerly no one was appointed an 

Inspector of Schools until he had been in the country for a 
sufficient length of time, got acquainted with the ways and 
manners of the people, proved an efficient teacher and strong 
administrator. Such were Messrs, Woodrow, Croft, Bellet, Martin, 
Garret, Pope and others who had long been in the country and 
had made their mark in the service before they were appointed 
Inspectors. 

Female education has made very little progress in this 
country. Although the present educational system has been in 
operation for about half a century only a very small percentage 
of female population of school-going age are under instruction 
and the majority of those who are at school, belong to the 
primary stage. If progress is to be made at this regrettably slow 
rate it will take ,1 am afraid, centuries to get the females of 
this country educated to the desired extent The appoint- 
ment of a number of ladies possessing high academic attainments 
as Inspectresses and Assistant Inspectresses of schools does not 
seem to be necessary for the present. There are not many girls * 

schools that require inspection by higher inspecting officers 

Inspecting ' officers rarely succeed in getting new schools, 
established, though they can easily kill old ones. It is Indian? 



14 UFE OF A. KARIM 

officers who have ready access to the people, can talk freely with 
them and can convince them of the necessity of educational 
institutions, who sometimes succeed in inducing people to open 
new schools. The appointment of educated Indian ladies, who 
know the real requirements of their countrywomen, and not that 
of European ladies, is therefore likely to further the cause of 
female education in this country. 

Female education should be such as to meet the require- 
ments of a nation. Higher education is perhaps not the ideal 
education for Indian girls, who should be thoroughly well- 
grounded in such subjects as may be essentially necessary for 
them after they leave schools. A thorough knowledge of the 
three R's, of hygiene, sewing, cooking and care of infants, is 
far more useful to them than a university degree which, in some 
cases, proves to be a mere academic accomplishment. The educa- 
tion of our girls should develop their womanly nature and 
aptitude so as to make them good wives and good mothers. 

At a critical time like this when some of the students seem 
to be getting out of hand and when measures are likely to be 
misjudged and motives misconstrued, exceptional tact and caution 
have to be exercised by the educational officers. Any ill-advised 
measure or hasty action on their part may create a situation 
which it may be difficult to save. The teachers can do much to 
improve the present state of things, as no great moral or intellec- 
tual change in the country can take place unless it is brought 
about by them. It is essentially necessary, therefore, that all 
possible steps should be taken to staff the educational institutions 
with the most efficient, tactful and sympathetic teachers. 

The success of the proposed Residential Universities chiefly 
depends upon the appointment of an efficient staff of Professors. 
The educational institutions in this country have all along been 
of the residential type, the close association of pupils and 
professors being considered essential both for progress in learning 
and formation of character. The distinguished professors of old 
were not only reputed scholars but also exceptionally pious men 
who, by their character and conduct, could influence the rising 
generation. If the proposal for the establishment of Residential 



EVIDENCE BEFORE ROYAL COMMISSION 15 

Universities has not met with an enthusiastic reception in India 
ilt is because the people have misgiving as to the kind of 
professors by whom they will be staffed. Naturally parents 
desire that the education of their children should not interfere 
'with their traditions and usage, manners and customs. It is 
thought there may be risk in the close association of Indian 
boys and European Professors. From what I heard of the late 
Mr. Beck and saw of Mr. Arnold at Aligarh I have reason to 
think that Kuropean Professors may accommodate themselves 
to local circumstances and meet the requirements, if they so desire. 
Popularity of the missionary colleges, in spite of the teaching 
of Christian religion, is due largely to the great interest taken 
by their professors in the welfare of their pupils and to the 
careful deference shown by them to the manners and customs 
of the country. The existing relation of the college staff with 
their pupils perhaps leaves much to be desired. To ensure the 
popularity of the proposed Universities it will have to be improved 
to an appreciable extent. 

Conditions of Service and Salary. 

The good of our boys, the well-being of society, the interests 
of Government and the mental and moral progress of the country 
require that our educational institutions should be under the 
guidance of the best and the wisest scholars. But when so many 
paths of wealth and emoluments are open the best minds can- 
not be won to an office so responsible and laborious as that of 
teaching without sufficient inducements. The cost of living is 
gradually rising and the spirit of self-sacrifice, which characterised 
the teachers of old, whose motto was "plain living and high 
thinking", is now-a-days scarcely met with. Instances such 
as that of a Gokhale, with all the advantages of a towering 
genius, serving his college on a very moderate salary for eighteen 
long years, are very rare. 

It would be superfluous to say that the educational officers 
are not adequately paid like the members of other services. Con- 
sequently those who can manage to enter other services do not 
care to come to the Kducational Service, and even some of those 



1 6 UFE OF A. KARIM 

who failing to get anything better, accept appointments in our 
schools and colleges, look upon the teacher's post as a stepping- 
stone to something better. After serving for some time when 
they learn something of the Art of Teaching and begin to be 
really useful, they betake themselves to other posts or pro- 
fessions that offer better pay and prospects. It is a matter for 
enquiry how many officers left the Educational Service after 
having joined it, and why. I need hardly say that it is most 
desirable that the pay of the educational officers should be 
raised and their prospects bettered. 

Such Limitations as Exist in the Employment of Non- 
Europeans and the Working of the Existing* System 
of Division of Services into Imperial and Provincial. 
In most of the other important services qualified natives of 
India are being gradually appointed to high posts to which they 
were never admitted before. Not to speak of other appoint- 
ments, qualified Indians are being appointed members of even 
His Majesty's Privy Council and of the Secretary of States Council 
in England and Executive Councils in India. But by a strange 
irony of fate, Indian members of the Educational Service in 
India are not only not getting any fresh concessions but are 
being gradually deprived of what they all along enjoyed since 
the creation of the Department of Education. At first there 
was only one superior service to which qualified natives of 
India, such as Babus Prasanna Kumar Sarbadhikary, Bhudeb 
Mukherjee and others, were freely admitted. When a larger 
number o* Indians began to qualify themselves for the superior 
service, it was ruled that the pay of the Indian members of that 
service would be two-thirds of the full pay drawn by its European 
members. Some deserving Indians, whose qualifications were 
even superior to those of some of their colleagues, thus suffered 
by the introduction of this rule. Some time after a Provincial 
Service was organised and Indians educated in Europe were 
included in this service. Distinguished Indian graduates of 
European Universities were thus practically debarred from getting- 
into the Indian Service. 



EVIDENCE BEFORE ROYAI, COMMISSION I/ 

The Education Commission after much investigation had 
come to the conclusion that a fair proportion of the Inspectorates 
and Principalships should be held by Indians of approved merit 
and it was in pursuance of this policy that 4 out of 7 posts of 
Inspector and 5 out of 8 posts of Principal were held by distin- 
guished Indians. It is not known why all on a sudden it was 
decided that no member of the Provincial Service, however high 
his attainments and satisfactory the record of his services might 
be, was to be appointed any longer to the post of Divisional 
Inspector of schools a post which was held from time to time by 
several Indian officers with much credit. To the utter surprise of 
all concerned a retrospective effect was given to this rule, and 
members of the Provincial Service, who had been already 
Inspectors of Schools, were replaced by members of the Indian 
Service. This perhaps is unprecedented in the history of Services. 
When a rule like this comes into force it applies only to future 
appointments and not to appointments made in the past. If it is 
ruled that natives of India are no longer to be appointed High Court 
Judges will those who are already on the Bench be replaced? 
This was actually done in the case of Indian Inspectors. 

Had not the post of the Principal of the Calcutta Madrasah 
been icserved for Europeans, qualified natives of India might 
have held it like the Principalship of the Sanskrit College. 
Distinguished Arabic scholars like Messrs Springer, I/ees and 
Blochman held, from time to time, the post of Principal of the 
Madrasah. When such men became rare the post might have 
been thrown open to qualified natives of India as was done in 
the case of the Sanskrit College. But this has not yet been done, 
and the result has been that some of those who recently held 
the post did not possess the requisite qualifications. Dr. Hcernle 
was a reputed Sanskrit scholar and he might have well adorned 
the chair of Principal of a Sanskrit College, but he long held 
the post of Principal of an Arabic College although he did not 
possess any knowledge of Arabic. Others, such as Messrs Hill, 
Rowe, James and Chapman, who held the post from time to time, 
had perhaps no pretension to a knowledge of any oriental language. 
Irately after a good deal of search for a competent man 

2 



1 8 UFB OF A. KARIM 



a Hebrew scholar has been appointed Principal of the Madrasah, 
who for want of a knowledge of Arabic, Urdoo and Persian, 
has to talk with his pupils and professors, if my information is 
correct, through the medium of an interpreter. 

On repeated representations from the Muhammadan community 
the post of an Assistant Director of Public Instruction for 
Muhammadan Education has been created. This also has been 
reserved for members of the Indian Service. If my information 
is correct, the post had to go abegging for some time; failing to 
get the services of an oriental scholar, the post was offered to 
some members of the Indian Service, who did not see their way 
to accept it. At last an officer has been appointed to the post, 
the principal duty of which, I understand, is to inspect Maktabs 
and Madrasahs and to take steps for the furtherance of Muham- 
madan Education. As far as I am aware this officer has been in 
the country for a short time during which he had nothing to do 
with the Muhammadans and the complicated problem ot their 
education. Perhaps he is not even acquainted with the alphabets 
of Ttdu, Persian and Arabic languages through the medium of 
which instruction is imparted in Maktabs and Madrasahs which 
it will be his duty to reorganise. It is unnecessary to multiply 
instances and it is most unpleasant to comment on them. Suffice 
it to say that the members of the Provincial Service have a long 
tale of grievances to tell. The sooner these grievances are removed 
the better. What can be more discouraging and disappointing to 
the members of a service than what has been stated above ? 
Is it possible, with such grievances as these always in their mind, 
to work with heart? 

If I have expressed myself rather strongly regarding certain 
matters it is because I feel very keenly about them. Besides, 
perhaps it would not have been proper to refrain from stating 
fully and frankly all facts which, I think, it is the object of the 
Commission to elicit. 



I ABDUL KARIM. 

3. ) 



The 17th October, 1913. 

The reorganization of the Educational Service by 
which the prospects of Indian officers of the Department 
were appreciably bettered, seems to have 
the above mentioned memorandum. 



CHAPTER III. 

QUESTION OF KHILAFAT. 

Finding that a good deal of misapprehension was 
prevailing regarding the relation of the Indian Muslims 
to their Khalifa, the Sultan of Turkey, M. Abdul 
Karim wrote some letters, of which the following are 
summaries : 

Ranchi, the 10th November, 1914. 
To 

THE HON'BLE MR. P. C. I/)YN, c.s.i. 

SIR, 

I hope you will kindly excuse the liberty I am taking in 
writing to you certain things regarding the attitude of my co- 
religionists at this critical time. I have read with much regret 

some of the letters and speeches published in the newspapers 

Turkey's ill-advised decision to break her neutrality has placed 
the helpless Muhammadans of India in an extremely delicate, nay, 
critical position. Whatever may be the fate of Turkey it is certain 
that my ill-fated co-religionists will have to suffer seriously unless 
they succeed in saving the situation by their conduct. That the 
Muhammadans of India, as a body, have all along been sincerely 
loyal to the British Crown, is an admitted fact. As their loyalty 
has not been called in question it were well if it had not been 
so prominently paraded at this time in the press and on the 
platform. I cannot persuade myself to believe that English 
educated people, as a body, can afford to do anything that is 
likely to embarrass the authorities. It is the masses about whom 
there need be some misgiving. It cannot be said for certain that 
in this crisis the feelings of some of the bigoted Mussalmans, such 
as those who caused the Shambazar riot or created the Cawnpore 



20 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

disturbance, will not get the better of their discretion. These 
people are of such an excitable nature that they lose their head 
whenever their religious susceptibilities are hurt in the least, and 
getting out of control commit undreamt-of excesses without pre- 
meditation, quite unmindful of the consequence Although 

it has been a master-stroke of statesmanship to announce that 
our holy places will be immune from molestation by Christian 
armies, some credulous people seem to be thinking that the 
Christian armies, in order to stagger Turkey and force her to 
submit, are going to occupy the holy places, and that certain 
unscrupulous persons have been engaged to prepare the mind of 
the Muhammadans for such a catastrophe by previously talking 
to them on the subject. I think, it is time to stop over-zealous- 
people from creating mischief by talking wildly, otherwise there 
TMght be trouble. 

There are certain facts which should not be overlooked : 

(1) The Muhammadans of India have for centuries regarded 
the Turkish Empire as their own and looked with veneration 
upon its sovereign as their Khalifa and the protector of their 
holy places. Perhaps it is not generally known that every Friday 
in every mosque in India and elsewhere mention is made of the 
Sultan of Turkey in the Khuthba or Sermon and prayers are 
offered for the safety and prosperity of his empire. 

(2) The Turks are fighting perhaps because they cannot help 
it, having been "hypnotised'* by German influence. Whether 
waged by the young or old Turks, whether it is secular or holy, 
it is a war between Christians and Musalmans. 

(3) The Turks are fighting their old inveterate enemies, the 
Russians, and it is a most unfortunate coincidence that the English, 
who so long helped them against their enemies, should now be 
in alliance with them. 

I am afraid these things could not be withheld from the 
masses who are perhaps already in possession of them in a much 
exaggerated form. Such being the case, naturally they sympathise 
with their co-religionists in the trouble they have brought upon 
themselves. To try to compel them not to do this is likely to 
be as futile as Canute's command to the tidal waves. What some 



QUESTION OF KHILAFAT 21 

common people are thinking of the despatch of Indian troops to 
the front and of the realisation of money for the war relief fund, 
may be taken as an instance of how things are misunderstood by 
these fools. It is being said, I have been told, that because all 
the British troops have been annihilated by the Germans* Indian 
troops have been sent for, and as all the money in the British 
Treasury has been exhausted, money is being raised from the 
people of India; so miserable is the plight of the British people 
that anything in cash or kind paid by the poorest of the poor, is 
heing accepted. 

It would have been well if instead of being over-zealous in 
making declaration of loyalty and in talking of the viciousness of 
the Turks, the feeling of patriotism, the sense of self-interest and 
the instinct of self-preservation, which are far more potent factors 
than anything else in swaying human action, were appealed to. 
It is in fact a question of life and death, of national existence and 
national annihilation. If at this critical time the Indian 
Musalmans do not conduct themselves as they should, they are 
sure to lose what they are now enjoying under the fostering care 
^nd protection of the benign Government civic rights, educational 
facilities, official emoluments and perhaps even religious liberty. 
Deprived of these what will be their position ? Perhaps that of 
hewers of \vood and drawers of water. These are the things that 
should be quietly but clearly explained and forcibly impressed on 
those regarding whose conduct there might be misgiving. It is not 
the Nawabs, the Khan Bahadoors, the England-returned people 
'(who have but little influence with the bigoted Musalmans) who 
<:an do this, but the pious Maulanas, Maulavis, Mianjis and Imams, 
who command the confidence and esteem of these people. They 
should be requisitioned at this time and requested to go about 
quietly among these people and speak seriously and earnestly to 
them. The Friday assemblies at mosques may also be availed of, 
where advisable, for the purpose. As the most vital interests of 
"the Muhammadan community are at stake, I humbly hope there 
will be no misconception on account of doubtful representations, 
but all necessary steps will be taken to detect and nip in the 
bud anything that is likely to cause trouble to the community 



22 UFE OF A. KARIM 

as well as to Government. Anything that is likely to wound or 
even to irritate the religious susceptibilities of the people should 
be scrupulously avoided unless essentially required by the 
exigencies of any particular case. I have written, Sir, this letter 
under a solemn sense of responsibility and duty to my commu- 
nity as well as to Government, and I hope it will be taken in the 
spirit in which it has been written. 

Yours obediently, 
ABDUI, KARIM. 

3, Middleton Row, Calcutta,, 
The 12th November, 1914. 

MY DEAR MAULAVI SAHEB, 

This is a brief note to acknowledge the receipt of your 
valuable and interesting letter of November 10th from Ranchi. 
I may have a further opportunity of referring to it later on. Itt 
the meantime I would say that I appreciate very fully the dangers 
and the difficulties you describe; some of them were already 
present to me before your letter arrived. I think that you should 
recognise more clearly that this war is one of politics and not of 
religion, and has been forced upon Turkey by the ambitions of 
Germany, a Christian State. You include in your statement of 
facts which are overlooked one to the effect that this is a war 
between Christians and Muhammadans. Surely this is not a fact 
It is a statement that I think you should use all your loyalty 
and all your energy to controvert. The declarations of Muhamma- 
dans throughout the British Empire shew that they are willingly 
fighting for us against Turkey's new Christian ally, Germany, 
our enemy, who is for ever asserting its claim to be considered 
a champion of Christendom. We have evidence within the British 
Empire, that orthodox Muhammadans object to the war, and 1 
Great Britain, the greatest Muhammadan power in the world, has 
guaranteed the inviolability of the holy places. I hope that yon 
will use all the influence you possess to convince your co-religion- 
ists that their faith is not involved in this contest 'and point 
out that it is a non-Muhammadan power that has forced the hand 



QUESTION OF KHII.AFAT 23 

of Turkey for his own purposes. Your letter will receive further 
and very careful consideration at my hands. 

Yours sincerely, 
P. C. 



Ranchi, 
The 16th November, 1914. 

SIR, 

I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your kind letter of the 
12th instant. I am happy to learn that my last letter will receive 
careful consideration at your hands and that my motive in writing 
it has not been misunderstood. I am, however, exceedingly 
sorry to find that one statement in the letter should have been 
so worded as not to convey clearly what was meant and that 
it should have given you the trouble of writing so much about 
it. As far as my information goes there is no misconception 
up to this time regarding the cause of war with Turkey. It is, I 
think, clearly understood that this war is one of politics and 
not of religion that it is being waged for territorial conquest 
and not for the propagation of Christianity and the suppression 
of Islam. It is not, therefore, a war between Christians and 
Musalmans in the sense in which it seems to have been under- 
stood. What I meant is that the Turks, who are Musalmans and 
co-religionists of the Muhammadans of India, are fighting (though 
not for the sake of religion) against some Christians at the 
instigation of other Christians, and it is not quite unnatural (I am 
afraid it cannot be properly realised by non-Musalmans how 
strong is the tie that binds one Musalman to another) that they 
(the Indian Musalmans) should be sorry to see their co-religionists 
in trouble, although they are to thank themselves for foolishly 
and recklessly drawing it upon themselves solely for the benefit 
of some unscrupulous Christians ............. 

2. As for your desire that I should use my loyalty and 
energy to controvert any misstatement and remove any mis- 
apprehension, I need hardly assure you that I shall not fail to do 
all that lies in the power of a retired recluse like myself for the 



24 UFB OF A. KARIM 

sake of the Government as well as for the interests of my unfor- 
tunate co-religionists, who have fallen upon evil times and are 
now in great distress for no fault of theirs. 

3. My object in writing my last letter was to point out 
(1) the impropriety of saying things that might give rise to 
misapprehension and lead to trouble; (2) the advisability of 
appealing to such feelings as might produce a more telling effect 
in rallying the Indian Musalmans to the side of Government that 
has been so very solicitous of their welfare, than to others that 
might be less effective in this respect and give rise to misappre- 
hension. As regards the first point, I wrote at some length in 
my previous letter. I shall add only an incident which has come 
to my knowledge. An English educated gentleman on reading 
one of the remarks made by an over-enthusiastic person at a 
meeting, is reported to have said "he should have been shot," 
while another gentleman equally well-educated referring to a similar 
remark observed, "Had it been made at a meeting of the 
orthodox Musalmans he could not have come away with his head 
on his shoulders". If this is the feeling of English educated 
people, you may imagine what the uneducated people are likely 
to think of these things 

4. For fear of being misunderstood I did not write to you in 
my last letter about contributions to the War Relief Fund by the 
Indian Mussalmans, after Turkey's suicidal decision to participate 
in the war. But now that a declaration on the subject has been 
made with regard to the Mussalmans of Egypt, may I humbly 
suggest that the same principle may be followed in the case of 
the Mussalmans of India ? I/ike the Egyptians, the Indian 
Mussalmans hold the Sultan of Turkey in the highest esteem. 
It is not altogether unlikely that if the Indian Mussalmans 
continue contributing to the general War Relief Fund, some 
fanatical Mullah will some day secretly circulate a Fatwa to the 
effect that as the money thus realised may be utilised in crushing 
their co-religionists, though they may not be their countrymen, 
the contributors have ceased to be true Mussalmans. This, I am 
afraid, will cause much mischief. It, therefore, seems desirable 
that the principle followed in the case of the Egyptians should 
be adopted in that of Indian Mussalmans also. 



QUESTION OF KHILAFAT 25 

5. It would be most presumptuous on my part to say any- 
thing with regard to a powerful and effective speech delivered 
by the Prime Minister of the Empire. It must have been delibe- 
rately made after consideration of all the circumstances and I 
think it has produced the desired effect on those for whom it was 
intended. I wish, however, that portion of the speech which 
refers to the dismemberment of the Turkish Empire had not been 
published in India. The state of the feelings of Indian Mussal- 
mans may be judged from the fact that a highly educated 
Muhammadan of whose loyalty to the British Government I have 
not the slightest doubt, as its discomfiture may involve his ruin, 
burst into tears when he read this portion of the speech, although 
he has not perhaps much doubt as to the ultimate result of the 
suicidal policy that is being followed by the Turks. God knows 
what the masses will think when they will come to know all 
this. It would have been well if the translation of this portion 
of the speech into the vernacular newspapers could have been 
prevented. The less the news of Turkish defeats and the occupa- 
tion of Turkish territory by the Allies is published in India, the 
better perhaps for all concerned. 

6. At such a time of great agitation, when feelings run high 
and many unfounded things are talked of, credulous people 
readily believe whatever they are told. I have heard that it is 
being talked that as the European Powers were thinking of 
dividing the Turkish Empire among themselves, England taking 
Egypt, France Syria, Germany Mesopotamia and Italy Tripoli, 
the Turks have decided to die fighting rather than relinquish 
their empire without resistance, and hence they have joined the 
war. 

7. According to a prophecy of our holy Prophet (I am not 
in a position to vouch for its accuracy) the Mahdi is to appear 
in 1361 A.H. and after his reign of forty years the world is to 
come to an end. As this is 1331 A.H. there are only about 
thirty years for the Mahdi's appearance and 70 years for the 
destruction of the world. Within these thirty years many 
momentous events are to take place. ! One of these is a great war 
in which most of the powers in the world are to participate, the 



26 UFS OF A. KARIM 



Turks are to be driven away from Turkey to Syria and thence to 
Arabia, where only the Islamic Empire is to survive; at the 
end of this war only one Christian Emperor is to rule for some*- 
time over the whole world. So the Turks it is being said have 
inevitably been drawn to the war to suffer what has been pre- 
destined. 

I have referred to these things, some of which are perhaps- 
too irrelevant to be worth mentioning, in order to show the trend 
of people's feelings which may take a quite unexpected turn at 
any moment. The authorities, I think, should know all that is- 
being thought and said so that they may be prepared for any 
emergency. 

Yours obediently, 
ABDUI, KARIM. 

Calcutta, the 24th November, 1914t 
DEAR SIR, 

I have to thank you for another very interesting letter, 
dated the 16th November. Your views and the suggestions you* 
make will receive careful consideration. 

Yours sincerely, 
P. C. LYON. 

Bankipore, the llth December, 1914: 
DEAR SIR, 

I must apologise for the delay in answering your letter of the 
18th ultimo. I have been exceedingly busy for some time past. 
The enclosures to your letter, being the copies of two which you- 
have written to the Hon'ble Mr. I^yon, are exceedingly interesting 
and afford matter for much thought, and I have read them very 
carefully and used them in advising Government on such of the 
matters which they deal with as came up for orders. I have, 
therefore, to thank you for sending them to me. 

Yours faithfully, 
* H. LE MESURIER, ' 
(Chief Secretary to the Government of Bihar and Orissa). 



QUESTION OF KHII,AFAT 2J 

After the European war when peace was concluded 
and peace celebrations were being held, Maulavi Abdul- 
Karim dealt at some length with the subject in his presi- 
dential speech at the annual session of the Bengal Presi- 
dency Muslim League held at Jessore. The following is- 
a summary of what he said : 

The question that has of late most intensely exercised 
the minds of the Musalmans, not only in India but all 
over the Islamic world, is the question of the Khilafat and 
the integrity of the Ottoman Empire. So far back as- 
November, 1914, finding that some designing time-servers- 
were misleading the Government as to the real feelings of 
the Indian Musalmans regarding the Turkish empire and 
its sovereign, I addressed to one of the highest officials in? 
the Presidency two letters drawing his attention to the 
immense mischief which was being done by the over- 
zealous opportunists by abusing the Turks and disowning 
the Khalifa in order to propitiate the authorities. I 
pointed out how the Musalmans of India have, for 
centuries, regarded the Turkish Empire as their own and 
looked with veneration upon its sovereign as their Khalifa 
and the guardian and protector of their holy places, and 
why the tie which binds a person in the Gangetic valley 
to an individual on the Bosphorus may seem incomprehen- 
sible or even absurd to one who is not a Musalman. The 
letters produced the desired effect ; they were typed and 
circulated. 

Since those letters were written the world has passed' 
through the most calamitous cataclysm and humanity has- 
been staggered by the most revolting butchery and 
brutality ever recorded in modern history. The map o 



28 UFE OF A. KARIM 

Europe has been recast in such a manner as was never 
dreamt of before ; some of the fairest provinces in the 
'continent have been laid waste, some of the most mighty 
empires have crumbled to pieces, some of the most auto- 
'cratic despots have had to come to a most tragic end or 
to make a most ignominious exit from their kingdoms. All 
this has been brought about by the champions of liberty 
and justice. But might still seems to be right and lust 
for power and territory the ruling passion in Europe. 
Unfortunately the rumour referred to in my second letter 
-about the division of the Turkish Empire among the 
'Christian nations of Europe has turned out to be true, the 
-only discrepancy being that England is taking the place 
of Germany in Mesopotamia. It is but natural that the 
Musalmans of India, who look upon the Turkish empire 
as their own, should be so much alarmed and excited by 
the persistent rumours about its possible dismemberment. 

.... To my mind no amount of sophistry can 
explain away the pledge given by the Prime Minister of 
England, regarding the integrity of the Turkish empire 
at the time when the war was in its most critical stage. 
It was a solemn declaration seriously made from his place 
in the Parliament. That it was a mere offer and not a 
pledge is, I think, nothing but an after-thought of the 
Prime Minister's apologists. I cannot persuade myself to 
believe that a gentleman of Mr. Lloyd George's responsible 
position could have so far forgotten himself as to be guilty 
of such deliberate duplicity and dishonesty as to have 
solemnly given a pledge meaning all the time to break 
it at the first convenient opportunity. My idea is that when 
great difficulties stared him in the face and despair well- 



QUESTION OF KHII,AFAT 2 

nigh overwhelmed him and when the fate of the empire 
in his charge was hanging in the balance, he honestly 
made the promise intending to keep it. But when the 
danger was over, when the stability of the empire was 
assured and he found himself master of the situation, the- 
lust of territorial aggrandisement and the religious bigotry 
of a descendant of the mediaeval crusaders got the better 
of his sense of honour and justice, and he is now trying, 
to back out of his commitments. Abdul, as the British. 
Tommy would call the Turkish soldier, was a "clean 
fighter* ' as long as he fought, but as soon as he ceased to 
fight he became an unclean fighter, guilty of all sorts of 
barbarities and atrocities. The Musalmans have made it 
sufficiently clear that they cannot acquiesce in any settle- 
ment in which that solemn pledge is not adhered to and 
the integrity of the Ottoman empire is not maintained. It 
was these and similar assurances which induced the heroic 
Musalman soldiers to fight with all the valour of their 
race and the ardour of their religion in defence of the 
British Empire. Would they have shed a drop of Islamic 
blood if they could have realised that they were digging 
the grave, as Mr. I^loyd George's predecessor in office had 
the hardihood to say, of the greatest Islamic empire in the* 
world ? Would they have moved one step forward if they 
could have known that they were being led to a crusade,, 
as the Prime Minister has been pleased to call it, for the- 
annihilation of their co-religionists? Would they have- 
lifted one finger if they could have foreseen that they were 
helping in gaining a victory which would let loose blood- 
thirsty bands of Greeks to slaughter in cold blood 
thousands of defenceless Musalmans in Smyrna and its 
neighborhood ? Is there a Musalman with a drop of 



30 UFB OF A. KARIM 

Islamic blood in his veins whose heart has not bled by 
the recent report of the horrible atrocities committed upon 
their innocent co-religionists, whose villages have been 
wiped out, whose farms have been destroyed and whose 
enormous numbers, computed between 100,000 to 200,000, 
are homeless and in the depths of misery? What would 
have happened if the Musahnan soldiers had not sacrificed 
their lives to gain victory for the allied cause? The Peace 
Conference would not have perhaps sat in peace at Paris 
to decide the fate of Christian empires in accordance with 
the principle of self-determination and to divide the Islamic 
empire among the Christian nations. These, gentlemen, 
are facts which the Musalmans can never forget. As to 
the position of the Khalifa, it should be most strongly 
impressed upon those with whom the final decision lies 
that the Khalifatul-Islam, unlike the Roman Catholic 
Pope, must be the monarch of a powerful empire, able to 
protect the interests of his co-religionists and having 
sovereign jurisdiction over the Jaziratul Arab, where the 
holy cities of Islam, of which he is the guardian and pro- 
tector, are situated. ... It is a matter of some satis- 
faction that Mr. Lloyd George has at last thought it prudent 
to disown his apologists and to admit that his declaration 
was a pledge and not an offer. The carrying into effect 
of the whole pledge should now be strongly insisted upon, 
and it should be most distinctly made known that its partial 

fulfilment cannot satisfy the Musalmans The 

fidelity of the Musalmans to their faith is a wonder to the 
world. There is no sacrifice which they do not undergo 
ior its sake. For five years Muslim loyalty has stood 
almost superhuman test. It would be most unwise to put 
it to a further strain. 



QUESTION OF KHII.AFAT 31 

I would like to express on behalf of the 

Bengal Presidency Muslim League our grateful thanks to 
the little band of noble-minded Englishmen, among whom 
is my friend, Sir Theodore Morrison, and to His Highness 
the Agha Khan, the Right Honourable Mr. Ameer Ali and 
Mr. Abdulla Yusuf Ali, all of whom, by a curious coin- 
cidence, belong to a faith, which does not recognise the 
spiritual suzerainty of the Sultan of Turkey, for all that 
they have done and are still doing to uphold the power 
and prestige of the Khalifa by preventing the dismember- 
ment of his empire. Our thanks are also due to the Right 
Honourable Mr. Montagu for fully representing to the 
Peace conference the feelings and sentiments of the 
Musalmans of India and for forcibly advocating the cause 
of moderation and justice in dealing with the question of 
the Khilafat. Nor should I omit to mention how grateful 
we are to our fellow countrymen of the Hindu community 
for their kind sympathy and support in our trouble. 

As long as the fate of the Musalmans of the Turkish 
empire is not satisfactorily settled their co-religionists in 
India can never know peace of mind. It was only natural, 
therefore, that they should not be in a mood to take part 
in the festivities in connection with what was called the 
Peace Celebrations. When some sycophants organised a 
public gathering to offer up prayers for the triumph of 
British arms, a Muhammadan gentleman was asked by a 
high official whether he would join the prayers. He 
replied that as it would be practically praying for the 
defeat of his co-religionists, he could not persuade himself 
to join such prayers, but he would pray for the early 
termination of the war and conclusion of peace. We may 
well ask the promoters of the Peace Celebrations whether 



32 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

there is any real peace anywhere in the old world in Asia,, 
in Africa, or even in Europe? The conflagration into- 
which humanity was thrust by the disastrous war is still 
burning. Besides, the patch of cloud, perhaps at present 
no bigger than a man's hand, which has made its appear- 
ance in the Central Asian horizon, is giving cause for 
considerable anxiety. In such circumstances were not the 
Peace Celebrations which cost so much money a little bit 
premature? .... 

Reform and Reorganisation of Muslims. 

During his stay at Ranchi, after his retirement from 
Government service and before entering politics, Maulavi 
Abdul Karitn was swayed by one thought how to bring 
about the reform and reorganization of the Musalmans 
of Bengal. With this object in view he formed a scheme 
and issued a manifesto, in the drawing up of which he 
received appreciable help from his friend, the late Khan 
Bahadur Sir Fakhruddin, then Education Minister, Bihar, 
and his two sons, Professors Abdur Rahim and Abdul 
Hakim. The following is a copy of the manifesto: 

Anjuman-i-Islahul Musilimeen Bangala. 

(Muslim Reform Movement in Bengal). 

Alike from national and communal points of view the 
appalling disintegration and demoralisation of the Muslim 
community of India, and particularly of Bengal, is a crying shame 
and an insisting challenge to our powers of reorganisation and 
reform. The Muslim population in Bengal, particularly in Eastern 
Bengal, is much larger than that of any other country in the 
world. An equally dense mass of Muslim population over a 
similar area does not exist either in Turkey or in Aiabia or in 



QUESTION OF KHII.AFAT 33 

Egypt. Instead, however, of being a powerful factor in national 
and communal regeneration, the Bengal Muslims are in a pitiable 
state of moral, political and economic degeneration. The bulk 
of the Bengal Muslims have the most rudimentary and inadequate 
idea of their religious faith and traditions and are conspicuously 
un-Islamic in their deeds and thoughts. Steeped in ignorance and 
superstition and divided among themselves, they are woefully 
under the economic servitude of non-Muslim Zamindars, traders 
and money-lenders and politically under the unhealthy influence 
of designing parties and persons who do not scruple to lead 
them astray for selfish purposes. 

All this, I need scarcely say, is due to their not imbibing the 
true spirit of Islam. The reports that pour in from different 
quarters of the country of dacoities, murders, rapes and other 
unspeakable crimes indicate the depth of depravity to which our 
people have sunk. Can it be doubted that much of this criminality 
would disappear if religious and moral principles are properly 
impressed upon the masses ? Does it not indicate that the 
structure and outlook of Muslim society in Bengal is frightfully 
debased when feuds over such trifling matters as the recitation 
of Daalin and Zaalin and raising and lowering of hands in prayers, 
are matters of almost everyday occurrence ? What more violent 
travesty of Islamic democracy can be imagined than the aversion 
and refusal of Muslims of high rank and culture to permit their 
humbler co-religionists to join them even in prayers ? If the 
annual, weekly and daily congregation of Muslims in mosques 
has any significance and purpose, it surely is the fostering of 
a spirit of equality, fraternity and solidarity among them. 

Our ignorance of Islamic ideals and principles and our anti- 
Islamic conduct has not only retarded our progress, but has also 
supplied a direct incentive to non-Muslim organisations to 
mislead, dominate and exploit us grievously. It is pathetic to 
confess that the conversion of the Garos and other backward 
tribes has been largely hampered by the un-Islamic conduct 
displayed by the so-called Muslims, who practically treat their 
con verted 'and destitute brethren as social outcastes. To the same 
source must be traced the transitory success of the Suddhi move- 

3 



34 UFB OF A. KARIM 

ment and the Christian missionaries in converting some ignorant 
Muslims in Nadia and elsewhere. 

For the salvation of the Muslim community from this universal 
disorganisation and for their emancipation from economic thraldom 
there is one and only one prescription. On the one hand we 
must make our masses and classes thoroughly well-grounded in 
Islamic ideals and habits and on the other organise their resources 
and secure for them some measure of economic stability and 
independence. It has to be borne in mind that all power, social 
and political, must gravitate to where economic powers leside and 
that no power can be long sustained unless it is fortified by moral 
uplift and social solidarity. To the Muslim, just as much as to 
any other masses, the messages of social, educational or political 
reform must sound as a cruel mockery if nothing is done to save 
them from starvation and economic uncertainty. Unless economic 
rebuilding proceeds hand in hand with spiritual and educational 
reform, it is idle to expect any greater or permanent results from 
movements of their uplift and reorganisation. 

If the Muslims of Bengal are to take the position to which 
their numerical strength and communal importance entitle them, 
they must be true Muslims in every sense. As such they cannot 
quarrel among themselves or with their neighbours and they 
cannot be led astray by designing individuals and organisations. 
As true Muslims, they will learn to stand on their own legs, 
they will realise the necessity for exercising self-control, self- 
denial and self-sacrifice. Besides, they will inevitably be led to 
combine and co-operate for the protection of their interests and 
assertion of their rights. 

Would it be too much to expect that all interested in the 
progress of Islam would bestir themselves in time and join our 
movement? As a religious organisation it may be joined by all 
classes of Muslims, non-officials as well as officials. In a letter 
published some time ago in the "Mussalman" I proposed the 
formation of an organisation for propagating in Bengal the noble 
principles and high ideals of Islam. A provisional Committee 
is being formed to draw up a scheme and to frame rules. It is 
hoped men and money required for the work would be forthcoming 



QUESTION OF KHII,AFAT 35 

before long. I hope to be able to contribute, for five years, rupees 
two thousand annually out of the income of my endowed estate. 
Maulvi Wajid Ali Khan Pani, Zamindar of Karotya, has consented 
to accept the Presidentship of the Committee and I have been asked 
to be its Secretary. Moulana Shah Sufi Abu Bakar Sahib, Siddiq 
Jamal Sahib and several other gentlemen of light and learning, have 
already signified their willingness to serve on the Committee 
The names of the office-bearers and members of the Committee 
will be announced later. The aims and object of the organisation, 
as tentatively framed, are given below. Helpful suggestions and 
constructive criticism are earnestly invited. 

13/1, Wellesley Square, ) ABDUI, KARIM, 

Calcutta, > (Retired Inspector of Schools and 

The 1st October, 1925 ) Ex-Member of the Council of State). 



Aims and Objects. 

1. To propagate true Islamic ideals and principles and to 
expound the basic tenets and injunctions of Islam without entering 
into sectarian differences. 

2. To establish Islamic brotherhood by promoting unity, 
solidarity and equality amongst Muslims of different classes, views 
and ranks. 

3. To put a stop to un-Islamic customs and practices and to 
develop among the masses and classes a spirit of self-help, 
self-control, self-sacrifice, manliness and honesty. 

4. To organise social service among the destitute Muslims 
and relief work during the prevalence of famine, flood and 
pestilence. 

To make organised efforts to minimise litigation and party 
faction by introducing arbitration and promoting mutual confi- 
dence and trust. 

6. To ameliorate the condition of the Muslims by encouraging 
business enterprise, industry, and technical and commercial 
pursuits. 

7. l*o establish a fund and an organisation in each centre 
on co-operative basis for mutual help and relief in the purchase 



36 UFE OF A. KARIM 

of seeds, manure, implements and husbandry and raw materials 
for cottage industries. 

8. To reorganise the mosques as units of religious, educational 
and economic reconstruction. 

9. To establish Islamic Maktabs and Madrassahs for boys 
and girls and technical and night schools, wherever possible, and 
to take steps for their establishment by Government and Local 
bodies. 

10. To establish an institution for training preachers, 
missionaries and instructors on Islamic lines, and to utilise their 
services for furthering the objects of the Anjuman. 

11. To found bureaus in different centres for collecting 
accurate information regarding religious, social, hygienic, economic 
and agricultural conditions and needs of the Muslims. 

12. To carry on a propaganda for Islamic reconstruction and 
reform by starting an organ of this movement and by publishing 
and circulating leaflets and literature regarding Islamic principles 
and traditions and the schemes and programmes of the Anjuman. 

13. To organise regular and systematic collection of funds 
on the basis of Baitul-mal, periodical subscriptions and occasional 
donations for any or all of the above purposes. 

ABDUL KARIM. 



Urdu and Bengali translations of the above manifesto 
were published. 

Maulavi Abdul Karim's plan was to get different 
classes of Musalmans interested in the scheme. First of 
all he thought of approaching the large Muslim clerical 
staff in the Bengal Secretariat, from whom a large amount 
might come for carrying out the scheme. His calcula- 
tion was that over Rs. SOG/- a month could be obtained 
from them if they could be persuaded to contribute one 
per cent of their incomes. As there was nothing objec- 
tionable in the manifesto, a copy of it was sent to the 



QUESTION OF KHII,AFAT 37 

Government, so that no exception might be taken to 
Government servants' contributing to the scheme advo- 
cated in it. This seems to have been a mistake. When 
an enquiry was made about one or two statement in it, 
a rumour was spread by designing persons that Govern- 
ment had objection to its servants supporting the 
scheme, although no such objection was raised. Without 
enquiring if there was any truth in the rumour, the 
Muslims in the Secretariat decided not to support the 
scheme. Besides, M. Abdul Karim could not give 
undivided attention to this matter, as he had to enter into 
a canvassing campaign for election to the Bengal 
Legislative Council. So hardly anything was done to 
give effect to such an excellent scheme. It is hoped that 
it will be now taken up by some young enthusiastic 
Muslims. I think the reorganisation of the Musalmans of 
Bengal is more essential now than it was when the scheme 
was drawn up. 



CHAPTER IV. 

EVIDENCE BEFORE THE CALCUTTA 
UNIVERSITY COMMISSION. 

Maulavi Abdul Karim was requested to give evidence 
before the Calcutta University Commission of 1918, pre- 
sided over by Dr. M. E. Sadler. The following are sum- 
maries of his answers to some of the questions in the 
questionnaire issued by the Commission: 

1. The existing system of University examination does not 
afford to young Indians of ability full opportunity of obtaining 
the highest training. The reason is not far to seek. There is 
not sufficient scope for specialisation in particular subjects for 
which a student has special aptitude. Up to the B.A. standard 
a student has to study a number of subjects, even if he has no- 
special aptitude or predilection for all of them. Thus the multipli- 
city of subjects stands in the way of concentration of attention 
and energies on particular subjects. The student learns some- 
thing of several things, but he cannot make himself master of 
any one of them. Besides, such a large ground has to be gone 
over in almost every subject that it is difficult to acquire a 
thorough knowledge of it within the allotted time. After the 
Matriculation Examination a student should have the option of 
specialising in a few subjects for which he may have special 
aptitude. He should further have the option of studying only 
those portions of a subject of which he may be able to acquire 
a thorough knowledge. For example, if instead of learning the 
whole of the history of India or of any other country, a student 
has to study a particular period, he may have time for original 
research and investigation. 

Examinations also stand in the way of obtaining th'e highest 
training in a subject. Both the teachers and the taught care 



EVIDENCE BEFORE CALCUTTA UNIVERSITY COMMISSION 39 

more for success at the examination than for the acquisition of 
knowledge, and devote more attention to what helps in passing 
the examination than to what contributes to sound knowledge. 

4. There is no doubt that residential Universities of the type 
of the proposed Dacca University, if properly conducted, would 
be more efficient institutions for imparting education on a sound 
basis than the existing Universities of the federal type. But those 
who are fully acquainted with the backward condition and poverty 
of the people of this country, cannot be altogether blinded by the 
attractive ideals of a residential University. The crying need of 
the country is extensive education. At this stage of the country's 
educational development, surface should not be altogether sacrificed 
for depth. More attention should, therefore, be devoted to the 
extension and improvement of federal Universities, and most of 
the available resources should be utilised for this purpose. The 
number of students who are in a position to avail themselves of 
the costly education, imparted in a residential University, may 
not be very large, and their requirements may be met by the 
Benares, Aligarh and Dacca Universities for the present. 

8. The present conditions of admission to the University of 
Calcutta are not quite satisfactory. On their entrance to the 
University, students should have a greater command of the 
English language, through the medium of which instruction is 
imparted, than what the majority of the Matriculates at present 
possess 

It is most undesirable that any student possessing the 
requisite qualifications should be refused admission, on the ground 
of want of accommodation, to a federal University having jurisdic- 
tion over a wide area thickly populated by millions of people 
still to be educated. Besides, it would be a source of danger to 
society as well as to Government if year after year numbers of 
boys have to go adrift unqualified for any useful career in life. 
If this deplorable state of things is allowed to continue, it would 
prove disastrous to the interests of the Musalmans, who have 
just awakened to the paramount necessity of English education. 

9. (i). There is no doubt that in the existing University system 
teaching is unduly subordinated to examination. It is most 



40 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

desirable that the rigidity of the examination system should be 
reduced. I fully approve of what has been stated in paragraphs 
(a), (b) and (c). 

10. If an examinee secures high marks in a subject but fails 
to obtain pass marks in another subject he should not be required 
to sit in that subject at the next examination. Even if examined 
attendance at lectures in the subject should not be made com- 
pulsory. 

It would have been well if it could have been so arranged 
as to examine after a short interval (say three or six months) 
those who get plucked in one subject only. 

Those whose high proficiency in a particular subject is 
certified to by any recognised institution or society should not be 
required to pass the University test in that subject. For example, 
the successful students of the senior Madrassahs and of Tols 
should be exempted from examination in an Indian classical 
language. If their examination be not dispensed with, they 
should on no account be required to attend lectures in the subject. 

As in the Allahabad and some other Universities only the 
Roll Number, and not the name, of the candidate should be 
written on the answer paper. 

11. (i) I am of opinion that under the existing circumstances 
the medium of instruction and of examination at every stage 
above the Matriculation in the University course should be 
English. 

(ii) (a) I do not think students have on their entrance to the 
University an adequate command of English. 

(b) In my opinion up to Class VI (Middle English standard) 
vernacular should be medium of instruction for all students, and 
from Class VII upwards option should be given only to those 
students who prepare for the Matriculation Examination, to learn 
a subject either through the medium of vernacular or English. 

(c) I am not at all satisfied with the kind of training at 
present given in English before entrance to the University. A 
number of voluminous books on English is recommended, and 
students are taught at random whichever book or books- the head 
master of a school chooses to teach. I do not think they can 



EVIDENCE BEFORE CALCUTTA UNIVERSITY COMMISSION 41 

thereby acquire a clear idea of standard works or a sound know- 
ledge of English. ... 

The method of teaching English in our schools is most 
defective. Boys learn words without realising their significance 
or knowing their proper use. Teaching by means of translation, 
which is perhaps the least effective method of teaching a foreign 
language, is generally followed in our schools. It retards the 
quick comprehension of the spoken tongue, and the intervention 
of the vernacular medium postpones the time when the pupil can 
speak without consciously translating from his native speech 
into the foreign language. In teaching English the vernacular 
should be very sparingly used and translation should not be the 
means of understanding words and sentences in English. The 
teacher should endeavour to connect English words directly with 
the ideas they express or with other English words known to 
the boys and thus to replace translation, as far as possible, by 
object-lessons, picture-lessons and explanations in the English 
language. As a new language is learnt more by speaking it and 
hearing it spoken than by a study of its vocabulary and grammar, 
and as boys cannot easily learn to speak the language unless they 
think in it, much more importance should be attached to English 
conversation in the class room and outside it than is done at 
present. Correct pronunciation, expressive reading, good composi- 
tion and proper recitation, at present neglected, should be carefully 
attended to. 

The success of the teacher's work chiefly depends upon his 
method, which should be suited to the needs of the pupils, their 
capacity, knowledge and stage of development. Teaching should 
be rational and not merely formal or mechanical. The mind should 
not be merely fed with facts, figures and words, but the pupil's 
power of reasoning, judging, comparing and contrasting should 
be properly developed. That mere telling is not teaching must 
mot be forgotten. Besides, the teacher should bear in mind that 
the first thing to be learnt by the boys is not the more or less 
archaic language of English literature, but the spoken language of 
daily conversation . Quality, and not quantity, should be always 
aimed at. "I/ittle and well" should be the teacher's motto. As 



42 UFE OF A. KARIM 

a rule things should be taught first and words next^ Many 
students get up a book instead ..of studying a subject. Accuracy 
of idea and precision of statement should go together. Further 
the teacher should not only see that the pupils grasp his meaning, 
but make them give back their knowledge in their own words. 

(d) A distinction should be drawn in school, if not in Univer- 
sity, between practical training in the use of English language 
and training in the study of English literature. 

(e) Matriculation examination in subjects other than the 
English language may be conducted either in English or in the 
vernacular. 

(/) I do not think it is essentially necessary that English 
should be taught beyond the Intermediate stage to students whose 
general course of study may be other than linguistic. 

13 Islamic studies should be included in the curricula of 
the Calcutta University. The history of Islam should be 
separately taught as a subject of examination. Boys should have 
the option of taking up either Islamic history or the history of 
Greece and Rome, or the history of India or England. 

As in the case of Sanskrit, the different branches of Arabic 
learning should form separate subjects for higher examinations. 

14 The Universities should manage their own affairs. Out- 
side interference, I think hinders their development. A limited 
power of veto might, however, be reserved for the Provincial 
Government. 

15. It is undesirable that mere University examinations should 
be regarded as qualifications for posts under Government. The 
different University examinations are tests of the different 
standards of knowledge in general subjects and not of the special 
knowledge and training required for the different branches of 
public service. There is no branch of Service for which academic 
attainments are more necessary than for the Educational Service. 
Yet even in this Service many officers, although they possess 
these attainments, fail to prove a success for want of training in 
and knowledge of the art of teaching and the work of inspection. 
If a good scholar cannot always be even a good teacher or a good 
educational inspector, it is much less likely that he would prove 



EVIDENCE BEFORE CALCUTTA UNIVERSITY COMMISSION 43: 

an efficient member of any other branch of service for which 
special training in and knowledge of departmental work is much- 
more necessary. 

To regard success at the University examination as a qualifica- 
tion for public service would be disadvantageous to the students, 
because in that case they would be actuated more by mercenary 
motive than by love of learning, and they would labour not for 
the acquisition of knowledge but for somehow passing the 
University test with a view to enter service. This is the principal 
reason why the Indian Universities, as a rule, fail to produce 
such scholars as make substantial contribution to learning. 
Perhaps it would not be altogether an exaggeration to say that 
the Indian Universities do not, as a rule, produce sound scholars 
(there are, of course, honourable exceptions), but rather manufac- 
ture money-making machines. 

18. A system of periodical medical examination of students 
at different stages of instruction should be introduced and cessa- 
tion from studies and non-participation in games insisted upon 
in the case of those who are not in a position to stand such 
strain. That physical exercise is as necessary as over-exercise 
is injurious should be well impressed upon the students. Boys of 
weak constitution should not be permitted to take part in hard 
games, such as football and hockey. In selecting games for boys 
their physical strength, the nutritive quality of their food and 
the climatic condition of the country should be taken into consi- 
deration. 

From what I have seen and heard I have no doubt that the 
eye-sight of our students is perceptibly deteriorating. Special 
care should be taken to check this deterioration. 

22. (a) In the government of the University the needs and 
interests of the Muhammadan community should be specially 
considered. Numerically the Mussalmans preponderate in the 
Presidency of Bengal. As such they should have preponderated 
in the governing bodies of the University that is intended for the 
education of all classes of people in Bengal. But far from this 
being the case, since the establishment of the University, the 
community has never had, either by nomination or by election,, 



44 WFE OF A. KARIM 

even one-sixteenth of the seats in these bodies. Notwithstanding 
the comparative backwardness of the Musalmans in western 
education they might reasonably claim a much larger share of 
representation in the administration of the University than what 
they have hitherto had. Under the New University Act the total 
number of Fellows has been fixed at 100, of whom 80 are selected 
and 20 elected. The reservation by the Chancellor of the power 
of nominating so many as four-fifths of the Fellows, perhaps with 
a view to preserve the necessary equilibrium between the 
different communities, interested in the University, should have 
secured the representation of the different communities on the 
different bodies of the University in proportion to their numerical 
strength and communal importance. Even if allowance were made 
for difference in educational advancement, their representation 
should on on account have been so absurdly disproportionate as 
it is at present. That an overwhelming majority of even the 
nominated Fellows should have come from one particular com- 
munity is regarded as a grievance that calls for immediate redress. 
J hope and trust the Commission will see its way to make such 
recommendations as will remove the long-standing grievances of 
the community by securing for its members adequate and effective 
representation in the administration of the University. The 
statutory power of nomination reserved for the Chancellor should 
be exercised on some principle, and a sufficient number of 
Musalmans should be selected by him to be Fellows of the Calcutta 
University. 

A fair proportion of the higher appointments and of the 
ministerial posts under the Calcutta University should be given 
to qualified Musalmans. In appointing examiners also, their 
claims should be taken into due consideration. 

I am strongly of opinion that the special needs and require- 
ments of the Musalmans should be taken into consideration in 
connection with the re-organisation of the Calcutta University, 
and these should not be left to the proposed Dacca University 
scheme. For I have much misgiving as to how far the community 
will be really benefited by the Dacca University. Poor as the 
Musalmans are, I am afraid the cost of education in a residential 



EVIDENCE BEFORE CALCUTTA UNIVERSITY COMMISSION 45; 

University will prove too high to many of them to avail them- 
selves of its benefits, and the special attraction held out to them 
in the shape of a Faculty of Islamic studies and a Muhammadan 
college, cannot induce them to overlook their pecuniary difficulty. 
Besides, the scope of a residential University being limited, a 
sufficiently large number, of boys cannot be educated there. 
Moreover, there is no knowing when the Dacca University will 
come into existence. A federal University like that of Calcutta 
is best suited for the diffusion of knowledge over a wide area 
with a large population. 

(b) The needs and interests of particular communities with 
reference to the courses of study also require careful considera- 
tion. The English literature taught in Indian schools and colleges 
deals with English life and customs, English heroes and heroines 
and English scenes and scenery, and as such it cannot prove as 
interesting and useful to Indian boys as it should be. Besides, 
it is difficult for them to thoroughly grasp things with which 
they are altogether unacquainted. It is most desirable that an 
English literature dealing with Indian life and history and' 
depicting Indian scenes and scenery, should be created for Indian 
boys, particularly for those preparing for the Matriculation 
examination. If the English language is to have a permanent 
place in the course of studies for Indian boys, the creation of a 
literature of the kind suggested above is essentially necessary. 
The present denationalising and disturbing tendencies, I am 
afraid, cannot be counteracted unless such a literature is taught. 

Historical text-books should be very judiciously selected. 
Books containing misrepresentation of facts and unjust criticisms 
of historical personages should not be included in the list of 
text-books. The object of teaching history being not so much 
to acquaint the reader with dry facts and figures as to inspire 
him with patriotic feelings and noble impulses, such books as 
give, without sacrificing truth, interesting and ennobling accounts 
of the great deeds of their great men of the past, should be 
prescribed as text-books in history. History of Islam should be 
included in the curricula of studies for the University examina- 
tions. 



46 UFE OF A. KARIM 

Some of the Bengali text-books prescribed for the University 
examinations are not suitable for Muhammadan boys. These 
books deal with subjects which, though interesting to Hindu 
boys, do not appeal to Muhammadan students, being full of Hindu 
ideas and sentiments, illustrations from Hindu history and 
mythology and quotations from Hindu Scriptures and classics. 
They prove most uninteresting and even distasteful to Musalmans. 
Such books as draw largely upon the history, traditions and 
scriptures of Islam and deal with subjects interesting and inspir- 
ing to Muhammadan youths should be included in the list of text- 
books prescribed for the University examinations 

(c) The needs and interests of the Muhammadan community 
should be taken into due consideration in connection with the 
arrangements for the residence of students. For want of suitable 
lodgings at educational centres, Muhammadan students find great 
difficulty in the prosecution of their studies. When Persian was 
the Court-language many of the officers and members of different 
professions were Musalmans and a large number of Muhammadan 
students used to board and lodge with them, to feed and other- 
wise help a student being considered by the Musalmans as a 
sacred duty and a social obligation. When the number of such 
philanthropic people considerably declined on account of the 
abolition of Persian as Court-language, the students supported 
by them had to shift for themselves. This is one of the chief 
causes that has deterred the Musalmans from availing themselves, 
to any appreciable extent, of the advantages of education imparted 
in English schools and colleges. Even parents, who can afford to 
pay the high cost of English education, hesitate to send their 
children far from home for want of proper guardians. In these 
circumstances it is urgently necessary that adequate hostel 
accommodation should be provided for Muhammadan students. 
At least half of the money available for the provision of residen- 
tial accommodation should be utilised for their benefit. 

As on account of their poverty Musalmans are unable to pay the 
high seat-rent charged in expensively constructed hostels, cheaply- 
built houses should be provided for them. I am not in favour 



EVIDENCE BEFORE CALCUTTA UNIVERSITY COMMISSION 47 

of costly edifices for the residence of students of any community. 
If boys accustomed to reside in scantily-furnished humble houses 
are accommodated in well-built and well-furnished structures they 
are discontented when they go back to their old dwelling. In 
my opinion it is most undesirable that with a view to secure their 
unnecessary comfort and to raise their standard of living, the 
taste of the boys should be changed and a desire for such residen- 
tial houses created in them as they had not had before coming 
to the educational institutions and will not have after leaving 
them. 

The chief advantage of the residential system lies in the 
opportunity it affords for the formation of character through the 
close association of pupils and preceptors. This is the chief 
reason why the residential system prevailed in olden times in 
most of the educational institutions in this country. It would be 
superfluous to say that the Musalmans attach much importance 
not only to religion but also to morals and manners, and they 
view with much disfavour any deviation from the established 
social etiquette. Unless the residence of Muhammadan students 
is placed in charge of good Musalmans and the atmosphere in 
which they live and move is Islamic, such deviation cannot be 
altogether avoided. For example, a Christian Professor may not see 
anything objectionable in not only tolerating but even in enforcing 
a football or a hockey match at a time when Muhammadan 
boys should be engaged in their Maghrib (evening) prayers, and 
he may not have hesitation in calling for a peg when he finds 
himself run down on the field. Such occurrences, if they chance 
to happen, cannot but be viewed with alarm by the Musalmans, 
and cannot but detract from the popularity of the institutions 
concerned. Such being the case, I would strongly urge the 
desirability of invariably putting Muhammadan students in charge 
of Muhammadan Professors, who can command the esteem and 
confidence of their co-religionists. That the success of hostels to 
a great extent depends upon the judicious selection of their 
superintendents should never be lost sight of. 



4$ WE OF A. KARIM 

The following note on the education imparted in the 
Madrassahs in Bengal was submitted by Moulvi Abdul Karim for 
the consideration of the Commission : 

During the Muhammadan rule in Bengal there were Madrasahs 
all over the country. Besides the well-organised institutions of 
the kind, every mosque was a Madrasah in miniature. Eminent 
scholars, who devoted their lives to advancing Islamic learning, 
taught Theology, Law and Literature of Islam without any 
remuneration from the people. Many of these institutions 
collapsed when the Mussalmans lost their wealth and influence 
on account of the loss of sovereignty. Ab in the beginning of 
British rule in India Persian was retained as the Court-language, 
it was necessary to have an institution, well-equipped and well- 
staffed, for the training of officers. Warren Hastings established 
the Calcutta Madrasah in order to meet this requirement. Its 
course of studies was so framecl as to give Government servants 
a good training. Some of the private Madrasahs also adopted 
this course. As long as a knowledge of Persian and Mahomedan 
Law was a passport to posts of honour and emoluments, the 
education given in the Madrasahs was very useful. When Persian 
was replaced by English and the Provincial Vernaculars, the 
Madrasahs lost their utility and consequently lost also their popu- 
larity. But a large number of orthodox Mussalmans who cared more 
for religious than for secular education, continued to send their 
children to the Madrasahs instead of the schools and colleges. 
As, however, their course of studies was not revised in view of 
modern ideas and present conditions, the Madrasah students, as 
at present educated, are not qualified for any useful career in 
life and many of them have to be a burden upon the community. 
In order to remedy this unsatisfactory state of things, the course 
of oriental studies has lately been revised and proposals for 
further revision are under consideration. But unless the Madrasah 
students acquire a fair knowledge of English they can neither 
properly earn their livelihood nor can they make themselves much 
useful to society. The question of English education of Arabic 
scholars, therefore, demands careful consideration. It is a matter 
in which the Mussalmans are vitally interested. For, the com- 



EVIDENCE: BEFORE CALCUTTA UNIVERSITY COMMISSION 49 

tnunity cannot be influenced for good or for evil to such an 
extent by anybody else as it can be by the "Ulamas." It ia 
through them that the great majority of the people can be 
reached. It is, therefore, essentially necessary in the interests 
of the community as well as of the Government that Madrasah 
students should be given such an education as will make them 
intelligent and enlightened citizens. 

Steps were taken from time to time with a view to induce 
the students of the Madrasahs to learn English. But these did 
not produce the desired effect, because those who learnt English 
did not derive any appreciable benefit. Although better educated 
than the Matriculates and the under-graduates, their claims to- 
posts under Government were not recognised. Unless some 
inducements are offered by the conferment of special privileges, 
Madrasah students will not learn English to the desired extent. 
It is desirable that *the Calcutta University should do what the 
Punjab University has been doing in this respect. The Punjab- 
University has established Oriental Faculties and has recognised 
the Arabic Madrasahs and the Sanskrit Tols. Thus the different 
intellectual abilities and activities in the Province are being 
utilised by the University. The oriental students on their passing 
certain recognised examinations, are permitted to sit for examina- 
tion in the English papers of the Matriculation, Intermediate and 
B.A. examinations and on their obtaining pass marks in English, 
they are declared to have passed the University examinations. 
Thus without attending lectures in colleges and without examina- 
tion in any subject except English, oriental students in the 
Punjab obtain the Matriculation and I. A. certificates and even 
the B.A. degree. 

The University of Calcutta should have Faculties of Oriental 
Studies like those of the Punjab University. The Arabic Depart- 
ment of the Calcutta Madrasah, the course of studies of which 
is in no way inferior to that of the Oriental Faculty in Persian 
and Arabic of the Punjab University, should be recognised by 
the Calcutta University and its examinations should be 
held either by the University or, as at present, by a Madrasah 
board of examiners. There is no reason why about fifteen years 

4 



.50 UFE OF A. KARIM 

study in the Madrasah should not be regarded as of equal value 
in point of mental culture and moral discipline to the study in 
an Inglish University. It has to be borne in mind that in Islamic 
countries the education that makes great statesmen and adminis- 
trators is similar to what is imparted in the Madrasahs in this 
country. Taking all these circumstances into consideration, I 
would suggest that the Madrasah students, on passing the Junior 
and Senior examinations, be examined by the Calcutta University 
only in Knglish up to the B.A. standard and on their obtaining 
pass marks be declared to have passed the university examina- 
tion, the English paper of which is answered by them. 

When M. Abdul Karim appeared before the Commis- 
sion several questions were put to him by the President 
and some of the members. Mr. P. J. Hartog took excep- 
tion to M. Abdul Karim 's statement that education 
imparted through the medium of Arabic can make great 
statesmen and administrators. He wanted instances, and 
when M. Abdul Karim said that Abul Fazl, Akbar's great 
minister, had no other education, Mr. Hartog required 
instances of modern times. Thereupon M. Abdul Karim 
said that in Islamic countries, such as Turkey, Egypt, 
Persia, the great statesmen get education through the 
medium of only oriental languages. Mr. Hartog insisted 
upon instances of modern India. When M. Abdul Karim 
mentioned the names of Sir Salar Jung and Sir Syed 
Ahmad, Sir Ashutosh promptly said, "any one of them 
might have put all of us into his pocket." In the Com- 
mission's Report M. Abdul Karim's observations were 
quoted at some length in different volumes. 



CHAPTER V. 
ENTRANCE INTO POLITICS. 

Maulavi Abdul Karim had a mind to enter into politics 
on his retirement from Government service. But the 
sudden death of his friend, Nawab Sir Salimullah, on 
whose whole-hearted support he had counted, made him 
unwilling to come out of his retirement. He was, how- 
ever, urged by his friends (among whom were the late 
Mr. A. Rasul, Maulvis A. K. Fazlul Huq, Akram Khan, 
Mujibur Rahman, the late Najmuddin Ahmad and 
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad) to enter the Bengal Legisla- 
tive Council. Besides, he was reminded of what his spiri- 
tual preceptor* had said about his future. The following 



* One day when M. Abdul Karim's Murshed was absorbed in 
prayer he had a vision; he saw M. Abdul Karim sitting in a 
grand assembly, occupying a prominent position. From this he 
came to the conclusion that his disciple would get something 
extraordinary, which in the ordinary course he could not expect. 
As, however, nothing happened as long as he was in service and 
his Murshed was alive, he forgot all about it. He was reminded 
of this when there was a proposal of his entering politics. 
When he was elected a Member of the Council of State, it was 
thought that this was what his Murshed had referred to. But 
some of his friends thought something better was intended. 
Thereupon the matter was referred to some renowned spiritualists, 
such as the late Shah Nyaz Ahmad Sahib of Fyzabad and the 
late Shah Waris Hasan Sahib of I/ucknow, who thought some- 
thing better was yet to come. But for all this, most probably 
Maulvi Abdul Karim would have retired from public life long 
ago. 



52 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

letter was addressed to M. Abdul Karim by some of the 
electors of the Bengal Legislative Council : 

Calcutta, 1st September, 1915. 
"DK\R SIR, 

In an editorial note in the Muhammadi there is a statement 
to the effect that none of our co-religionists who by their educa- 
tion, character and social position are really fit to represent the 
community in the I/egislative Council of the Presidency, are 
inclined to seek election from the Presidency Division. This, 
we need hardly say, is very much to be regretted. It is true 
that on the last two occasions some of those who had the privilege 
of voting at such elections behaved in a manner that reflects 
but little credit upon the community, to which they belong. 
It is hoped, however, that if well-directed efforts are made ta 
convince these people of their folly and to enlighten them as 
regards the qualifications that are necessary for safeguarding the 
interests of the community, better sense will prevail next time. 
You are not unaware, Sir, that there is a dearth in our community 
of such men as are able and willing to work earnestly for its 
good. If the few there are abstain from taking an active part 
in matters concerning the vital interests of the community, its 
fate is sealed. We, therefore, request you to take into considera- 
tion all these circumstances in coming to a final decision in the 
matter. From what we have known of your public spirit, inde- 
pendence, sense of duty and earnestness and enthusiasm for the 
work of the community, we have reason to believe that you. 
are eminently fit to represent it in the legislative Council of 
the Presidency, and we have no doubt your candidature for 
election to it will be readily welcomed and strongly supported 
by its members/' 

Maulavi Karim gave the following reply : 

Calcutta, the 8th November, 1915, 

"DEAR SIRS, 

I am in receipt of your letter dated the 1st instant. I have 
read the Muhammadi's editorial note referred to therein. I think 



ENTRANCE INTO POLITICS 53 

it is right in urging strong and effective representation of the 
community on those bodies that guide the affairs of the Presidency 
in view of the administrative changes that are likely to take 
place as a result of the unexpected steadfast loyalty displayed 
by the people in this crisis. I have, however, learnt with regret 
that those who are able to work for the community are unwilling 
to undertake the responsibility. As for my humble self, I have 
been leading for some time a retired life and I would like to be 
let alone. But if you cannot persuade any one, who may be in a 
position to work better, to be a candidate for election, I may 
comply with your request, provided there is no unhealthy rivalry 
with any other candidate. It should, however, be distinctly 
understood that I shall not permit any of my supporters to have 
recourse to any objectionable means or method. Although ready 
to sacrifice my energy and money for the community, I have 
serious objection to their being used for anything that is unworthy 
or improper. If you think you will succeed in getting me 
elected without resorting to improper canvassing, you may propose 
me as a candidate. But before doing this you should try to 
induce some abler person to seek election to the Council." 

On receipt of M. Abdul Karim's reply his supporters 
issued a manifesto, of which the following is a 
summary : 

"Calcutta, the 25th November, 1915. 

DEAR BRETHREN, 

Perhaps you are aware that the time for electing represen- 
tatives to the Legislative Councils has drawn nigh ; the election 
is to take place in March next. We were exceedingly sorry to 
find that many of the electors in the Presidency Division were 
so disgusted and disappointed on account of certain objectionable 
proceedings at some of the previous elections that they decided 
not to take any interest in the next election, fearing a recurrence 
of such proceedings and hopeless of getting the right men 
elected to the Council. Finding that neither the electors nor 
those qualified to be elected were inclined to move in the matter 
we had to exert ourselves in this direction. It was explained 



54 UFE OF A. KARIM 

that the privilege of electing representatives to Councils was a 
valued one and it would have been a great mistake to make it 
practically inoperative by failing to exercise it in a proper manner. 
Besides, while important administrative changes are expected 
to take place after the termination of the war, the necessity of 
having capable representatives to bring our special wants and 
requirements to the notice of the authorities, could not be too 
strongly urged 

2. The question now arises as to who are the proper persons 
to be our representatives in the Councils. We need hardly say 
that our representatives should be such men as are in a position 
to command the esteem and confidence of the community and, 
if possible, of Government and are able to take such an active 
and intelligent part in the deliberations of the Council as is 
necessary to safeguard its interests men who are ready to 
sacrifice personal interests for those of the community, who do 
not think of self-advertisement and self -aggrandisement, and who 
have the courage of their convictions and the intelligence and 
capacity to give expression to them. 

3. While thinking of eligible candidates for the Council 
election, the name that naturally occurred to our mind was 
that of Maulvi Abdul Karim, retired Inspector of Schools, whose 
princely gift of Rs. 50,000 for Islamic work and Muhammadan 
education and substantial assistance to the Al-Islam, which owes 
its publication mainly to his munificence, have endeared him 
to his co-religionists as one of its greatest benefactors. At our 
repeated request he has consented to stand as a candidate. What 
has influenced us most in proposing Maulvi Abdul Karim for 
election is that he is one of the most veteran educationists not 
only in the community but in the whole country. It is admitted 
on all hands that the most keenly-felt want of the community 
is education, backwardness in which has made us fall far behind 
other communities. We can think of no better person to bring 
to the notice of the authorities our educational wants and require- 
ments and to suggest means for meeting them than Maulvi Abdul 
Karim, who may be said to have grown grey in educational 
service and has made such a special study of the complicated 



ENTRANCE INTO POLITICS 55 

questions connected with Muhammadan education as to be 
regarded as an authority on the subject. Perhaps it is not 
unknown to you how much Maulvi Abdul Karim has done for 
Muhammadan education in Bengal, It cannot be gainsaid that 
the ripe experience and extensive knowledge of educational 
questions possessed by such a man would much benefit the 
community if he were elected its representative. It would be 
superfluous to enlarge upon his public spirit, princely generosity, 
independence of character, courage of conviction, devotion to duty 
and earnestness and enthusiasm for the work of the community. 
Such a man is pre-eminently fit to represent our community in 
the Council and it is confidently hoped that he would be elected 
without a contest. If, however, there be a contest we would 
earnestly request you to take into careful consideration all that 
has been stated in this manifesto before you record your vote 
in favour of any candidate. 

Yours faithfully, 

A. Rasul (Bar-at-Law) Muhammad Ali (M.vSc ) 

Md. Sultan Alam (Attorney-at-Law) Serajul Islam (M.A.) 

A. K. Fazlul Huq (Vakil, High Court) Syed Majid Buksh (B.A.) 
Md. Shahidullah (Pleader, Basirhat) Shamsuddin Ahmad (B.A.> 

And 72 other Graduates (E.Sc. B.A.) 

With all their utmost efforts Maulvi Abdul Karim '$ 
supporters failed to get him elected for the shortage of a 
single vote, on account of the machination, misrepresen- 
tation and malpractices of one particular supporter of a 
rival candidate. Some time after, however, M. Abdul Karim 
was elected to the Council of State from the Eastern 
Bengal Constituency, consisting of Dacca, Chittagong and 
Rajshahi Divisions. 

Before his election to the Council of State, Maulvi 
Abdul Karim exerted himself to bring about an amicable 
settlement of the differences between the Hindus and 



56 UFE; OF A. KARIM 

Muslims of Berfgal. He had prolonged discussion about 
the matter with the late Mr. C. R. Das and the result was 
the formation of the following pact : 

A HINDU-MUSLIM PACT. 
I 

It is resolved that in order to establish a real founda- 
tion of Self-Government in this province it is necessary 
to bring about a pact between the Hindus and the Maho- 
medans of Bengal dealing with the rights of each com- 
munity when the foundation of Self-Government is 
secured. 

II 

Be it resolved that : 
(a) Representation in Council. 

Representation in the Bengal Legislative Council on 
the population basis with separate electorates. 

(6) Representation in Local Bodies. 

Representation to local bodies to be in the proportion 
of 60 to 40* in every district, 60 to the community which 
is in the majojrity, and 40 to the minority. Thus in a 
district where the Mahomedans are in majority they will 
get 60 per cent, and the Hindus 40 per cent. Similarly 
where the Hindus are in majority they are to get 60 per 
cent, and the Mahomedans 40 per cent. The question as 
to whether there should be separate or mixed electorates is 
postponed for the present to ascertain the views of both 
communities. 



* This may be further considered. 



KNTRANCK ' INTO POLITICS 57 

(c) Government Posts. 

55 per cent of the Government posts should go to the 
Mahomedans to be worked out in the following manner : 

Fixing of tests for different classes of appointments. 
The Mahomedans satisfying the least test should be pre- 
ferred till the above percentage is attained ; and after that 
according to proportion of 55 to 45, the former to the 
Mahomedans and the latter to the non-Mahomedans, 
subject to this that for the intervening years a small per- 
centage of posts, say 20 per cent, should go to the Hindus. 

(d) Religious Toleration. 

(1) In not allowing any resolution or enactment which 
affects the religion of any different communities without 
the consent of 75 per cent of the elected members of that 
community. 

(2) In not allowing music in procession before any 
mosque. 

(3) In providing that no legislation or enactment in 
respect of cow-killing for food will be taken up in the 
Council. Endeavour should be made by members of both 
the communities outside the council to bring about an 
understanding between the communities. 

(4) In providing that cow-killing should be carried on 
in such a manner as not to wound the religious feeling 
of Hindus. 

(5) In not interfering with cow-killing or religious 
sacrifices. 

(6) In providing for the formation every year of repre- 
sentative committees in every sub-division, of which half 
the members should be Mahomedans and half Hindus, each 



5& UPE OF A. KARIM 

committee choosing its president from amongst themselves 
with power to prevent or arbitrate upon any dispute be- 
tween the Hindus and Mahomedans in accordance with 
the provision hereinbefore stated. 

Subhas Chandra Bose, 
Secretary, B. P. C. C. 
18-12-23. 

After some time Maulvi Abdul Karim published a 
history of the "Hindu-Muslim Pact/' The following are 
extracts from it : 

"It is very much to be regretted that the proposed pact 
between the Hindus and the Musalmans of Bengal should have 
upset some of the educated Hindus and given rise to so much 
acrimonious discussion in the press and on the platform There 
is, I am afraid, a great deal of misapprehension as to the motive 
that led to the proposal. It will be seen from the facts I am 
going to state that the idea of a pact did not originate in a time- 
serving siprit, but in a far-seeing endeavour to guard against 
a situation that seemed only too likely to arise before long and 
prove disastrous to the interests of both the communities. It will 
be further seen that it was not Mr. C. R. Das, who first moved 
in the matter with a view, as supposed, to court the support of 
the Musalman members of the Bengal Legislative Council. On 
the contrary, the proposal in its inception came from the other 
party concerned, and was developed into its final form after care- 
ful deliberation on both sides. 

Realising the necessity of a pact like the one proposed, in 
the latter part of September last, I sent word to Mr. C R. Das, 
through Moulavi Tamizuddin, to arrange for a free and frank 
discussion of this important question. I was informed that Mr. Das 
would like to have at first a talk with me on the subject. Shortly 
after, however, I had to go to Dacca and then to Chittagong in 
connection with my election to the Council of State and I could 



ENTRANCE INTO POLITICS 59 

not meet Mr. Das for some time. But from what I saw and heard 
regarding the feelings of the Mussalmans, during my stay at 
Dacca and Chittagong, I was all the more convinced of the urgency 
of a clear understanding between the Hindus and the Mussalmans. 
in order to avert the apprehended calamity of a violent rupture 
between the two communities and to ensure success in the ensuing 
fight with the bureaucracy for the early attainment of responsible 
self-government. On my return to Calcutta I had an interview 
with Mr. C. R Das at which Mr. Nasim AH (now a High 
Court Judge) and Sreejut Bijoy Kristo Bose were present. I was 
glad to find that Mr. Das was inclined, unlike many of his short- 
sighted co-religionists, to take a long view of the situation. He 
wanted to know the terms on which the Mussalmans would 
agree to have a pact with the Hindus. When these were broadly 
stated to him, he said that the demands were not unreasonable 
and he saw no reason why they should not be accepted by the 
Hindus. Accordingly the 9th of December was fixed for a 
thorough discussion of this outstanding national problem. On 
that day I called at Mr. Das's place with a draft of the proposed 
pact, drawn up in consultation with some of the leading 
Musalmans. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Moulvis Nasim AH, 
Wahed Hossain and others took part in the discussion which 
ensued and lasted for over two hours. As a result, certain 
definite terms were agreed upon, and Mr. Das undertook to put 
up the proposals for a Pact before the conference of the 
Swarajist members of the Bengal Council that was to have been 
held on December 16. As the conference was intended exclusively 
for the Swarajists, I did not attend it. I, however, came to 
learn that after a thorough discussion the terms of the draft 
pact were accepted with certain modifications. It was then issued 
over the signature of Mr. Subhas Chandra Bose. 

It is to be regretted that a vigorous agitation against 
the pact was started when it was published. A largely 
attended meeting was held in the Indian Association Hall, 
with the -late Sir Surendranath Banner jee as president, to 
condemn it. Maulavis Abdul Karim, Nasim Ali, and 



60 UFE OF A. KARIM 

others went to the meeting to see what would happen. 
Although Mr. C. R. Das did not go, a number of his 
followers were there. When Sir Surendranath began his 
presidential speech he was interrupted by them. Before 
he could deliver half of his speech the interruption became 
so violent that he broke up the meeting and made a preci- 
pitate retreat. The agitation against the pact was, how- 
ever, continued. Mr. Das assured M. Abdul Karim that 
there was no cause to be disheartened, as he was sure that 
the agitation would cease after some time. Unfortunately, 
to the country's misfortune, after a short time, Mr. Das 
fell seriously ill and then died. Although Mr. Bose and 
many others implicitly followed the greatest political 
leader of modern Bengal, as long as he was alive, they did 
nothing to give effect to the pact, and it became a dead 
letter. M. Abdul Karim thinks that if the pact, which was 
intended to be in force for five years, had been given effect 
to, the discord and dissension between the two commu- 
nities, that have disgraced Bengal, would have ceased 
long ago and the pact would have been withdrawn and 
joint electorate enforced. M. Abdul Karim thinks that 
it is only when the two communities will be exhausted 
by their quarrels, and will realise their great mistake, they 
will have to come to some amicable settlement as was 
indicated in the pact. The earlier God gives them good 
sense to work together, the better will it be for the 
country. 



CHAPTER VI. 
MEMBER OF COUNCIL OF STATE. 

On entering the Council of State Maulavi Abdul Karim 
found himself rather in an uncongenial atmosphere. The 
failure of those, who had preceded him, to take an intelli- 
gent part in the proceedings of the Council, had created 
a prejudice against the Muslim members from Bengal and 
hardly any notice was, therefore, taken of them by other 
members, particularly the officials. Within a short time, 
however, he succeeded in removing this prejudice. On the 
igth March, 1924, the Hon'ble Mr. G. A. Natesan, non- 
official nominated member from Madras, moved "This 
Council recommends to the Governor-General in Council 
to take effective steps to prevent the repeated attempts of 
the Union Government of South Africa to impose restric- 
tions and disabilities on the Indian Community similar to 
those embodied in the Class Areas Bill, as the proposed 
measure constitutes a violation of the Smuts-Gandhi agree- 
ment of 191 1, and would damage Indian interests irre- 
trievably besides endangering the solidarity of the 
Empire. " After the long speech of Mr. Natesan, the 
Right Honourable Srinivash Sastri, the Hon'ble Dr. Deva 
Prasad Sarvadhikary, and other members spoke in support 
of the Resolution. Next day when the discussion was 
resumed the Hon'ble Maulvi Abdul Karim supporting the 
Resolution spoke as follows : 

"Sir, after having heard all that has been said on the subject, 
I feel that it would be undesirable to record a silent vote. The 



<)2 UFE OF A. KARIM 

discussion, I am afraid, lias taken a turn that is to be regretted. 
Solidarity and unanimity of opinion in a matter like this, I am 
sure, would have carried great weight. The Right Honourable 
Srinivasa Sastri, I believe the Honourable Members are not un- 
aware, was at one time sanguine of success in bringing about 
a satisfactory settlement, and he was pilloried in the extremist 
press and platform for his optimism. I think it is the personal 
knowledge of the actual situation, which he acquired in the course 
of his tours in the countries concerned, that turned him into 
a pessimist, After having seen with his own eyes the inhuman 
treatment meted out to his countrymen in those countries, and after 
having heard the many tales of grievances they had to tell, and, 
above all, finding that their opponents I may say their oppressors 
took up a most unyielding attitude and showed a determined 
unwillingness to entertain even reasonable proposals, he must 
have realised the futility of the efforts made and the steps taken 
from time to time to ameliorate the pitiable condition of his 
countrymen. In such circumstances, I believe, he was perfectly 
justified in using the strong language that he used in giving 
expression to his disappointment and in suggesting certain extra- 
ordinary measures. It seems, Sir, that those who are inclined 
to take exception to what the Right Honourable Srinivasa Sastri 
said, are not in touch with the intelligentsia of the country, the 
people who really and seriously think about such matters. I 
believe if the Honourable Sir Narasimha Sarma had opportunties 
of personally seeing and hearing all that the Right Honourable 
Srinivasa Sastri saw and heard, he would not have thought that 
the mild measures he is inclined to advocate would produce the 
desired effect. In going through the magazine, "Indians Abroad", 
I happened to come across a passage in which public opinion has 
been expressed by a certain person. It runs as follows : 

"Is not the time ripe for the Indian leaders to devote their 
attention towards their exiled brethren also? It is an admitted 
fact that in the past, leaders of Indian thought and the Indian 
National Congress did nothing to prevent and redress the various 
wrongs under which our people are labouring. The member in 
charge of the Emigration Portfolio in the Viceroy's Executive 



OF COUNCIL OF STATE 63 

Council is an Indian and of our own blood the Honourable Sir 
B. N. Sarma. He must be able to feel the difficulties of his own 
brethren in the Colonies and he should take up this question. 
Hitherto he was practically in slumber. We hope that now at 
least he will awake, fear God, and for the sake of humanity begin 
to act " 

I think those who are really aware of the intensity of feeling 
in the country cannot be so callous as not to feel the urgent 
necessity of adopting such measures as would prove really effective 
in removing the disadvantages, the difficulties and the disabilities 
under which our countrymen are labouring. I do not think it 
desirable to take up the time of the Council by enumerating the 
various grievances of our brethren in the Colonies. I think these 
are too well known to need repetition. I believe, Sir, the days 
of paper despatches and telegraphic protests are gone, and the 
time has come for taking more decisive and stronger action. An 
impression seems to be gaining ground (it is not at all the credit 
of the authorities) that the Government of India and even the 
Imperial Government are powerless to protect the Indians who 
are entirely at the mercy of the Colonial Whites. They have so 
far disregarded and, I think, will continue to disregard the 
agitation in this country. What does it matter to them if we 
make a noise without hurting them? This is an age of self- 
assertion; unless we can effectively assert ourselves, our repre- 
sentations and our requests will, I am afraid, be unheeded. I 
think, Sir, the self-respect of the people of India, and the self- 
respect of the Government of India as well, demand that such 
effective retaliatory measures should be adopted without further 
delay as would produce the desired effect. The time has come 
when the policy of representation should be changed. We 
should not ask any longer as a matter of favour what we are 
entitled to demand as a matter of right. 

The speech, though short, was impressive. When 
the Council meeting was over the Hon'ble Mr. Missir told 
Maulvi Abdul Karim that Mr. Srinivash Sastri had told 
him, "Mr, Abdul Karim's speech was such that it would 



64 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

have done credit to any speaker in the world. " What 
happened the day following confirmed that the speech had 
really created a good impression. The late Hon'ble Dr. 
Mian Sir Muhammad Shafi gave an evening party on the 
2ist March. When M. Abdul Karim's car arrived at the 
party ground, the Hon'ble Sir Narasimha Sarma, the leader 
of the Council of State, who so long had not even had the 
courtesy of speaking to him, quickly came to him and con- 
gratulated him on his previous day's "excellent speech. " 

On the 24th March Maulvi Abdul Karim put a series 
of questions regarding the appointment of Muslims (i) as 
superior officers in the Imperial Secretariat, (2) as Secre- 
tariat Superintendents, (3) on the North-Western and 
Eastern Bengal Railways, (4) as superior officers on the 
Railway Board, (5) as officers on the Railways and in 
various Departments of Indian Railways, (6) in Agency 
and Loco Departments of Railways. The Hon'ble Mr. J. 
Crerar and the Hon'ble Mr. D. T. Chadwick gave suitable 
replies to the questions. Before leaving the Council 
Maulvi Abdul Karim had the satisfaction of seeing Muslims 
appointed to some of the posts referred to above. 

That day the Hon'ble Mr. A. C. Mcwatters, the 
Finance Secretary, presented the Indian Finance Bill and 
Maulvi Abdul Karim made the following speech : 

"In spite of what my Honourable friend, Nawab Sir Umar 
Hayat Khan, said I think it is a wise decision on the part of 
Government to reduce the salt tax which hit the poor hard. 
People in the position of my friend have not much occasion to 
come in contact with the poor, and that is the reason why 
they cannot realise their difficulties. As regards the other 
things which the Honourable Member said, I do- not know 
whether he was at all serious. We have lived in India for 
centuries on terms of peace and amity. Even in the autocratic 



MEMBER OF COUNCII, OP STATE 65 

days, when the Mussalmans ruled over this country, there was 
not, as the gentleman indicated, any very great fear of social 
rupture. The Mussalman Emperors took advantage of expert 
knowledge in financial and even in military matters from their 
non-Muslim subjects. 

As regards the demand for self-government, I would not use 
the word Swaraj about the definition of which I find there has 
been so much controversy. It is not a fact that the members of 
my community are not as anxious to get it as the members of 
other communities. I believe, Sir, if it is to be a Raj other 
than a British Raj it will be an Indian Raj and not a Hindu 
or a Muhammadan Raj. I do not think that the Hindus, although 
they are the original inhabitants of this country, are in a position, 
after we have been domiciled for such a length of time, to do 
without us and they should also bear in mind that we have 
come here to stay. So the only course is to come to an amicable 
settlement so that we may have self-government. 

..... The net addition to the revenue of the country in 
the year 1923-24, as the result of doubling the salt tax, was only 
about one-third of what was estimated, a crore and a half instead 
of four crores. I wish, Sir, for such a comparatively paltry sum, 
without which no great dislocation would have taken place in 
the administration of the country, so extraordinary a measure as 
"certification" had not been resorted to. If public opinion had 
not been disregarded in the manner in which it was done, and 
if due deference had been shown to what the representatives of 
the people tried their best to impress upon the authorities, I 
think there would not have been so much irritation in the 
country and the regrettable obstruction in the way of a timely 
satisfactory settlement of that vexed problem of expansion of 
the constitution so as to meet the wishes of the people, could 
have been, to a great extent, avoided. It is hoped that in 
future care would be taken not to sacrifice popularity which, 
to my mind, is a very great asset to the administration of a 
country, particularly by alien rulers, to enthusiasm for a balanced 
budget. It would be unwise, I think, to ignore the unexpected, 
I may say undreamt of, change that is taking place in the 

5 



66 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

mentality and outlook of the people. I think it would be states- 
manship of a high order to take careful note of these and to 
revise and modify the ideas and ideals of power and prestige so 
as to suit these to the changed circumstances. I wish, Sir, the 
word "zid", the full connotation of which can hardly be conveyed 
by any English word I know, had not found a place in the 
vocabulary of administrators and statesmen. I believe it is at the 
root of many avoidable troubles. With instances before them 
of many a finally settled fact getting easily unsettled, not only 
in other countries such as Egypt, but even in India itself, it 
would be, I think, too much to expect that people can any 
longer be bulliel to acquiesce in measures they do not approve or 
appreciate. I would appeal with all the earnestn'ess I can 
command to those whom Providence in this critical stage of the 
history of modern India has given an opportunity of making or 
marring her immediate future, to be actuated by such a solemn 
sense of duty, to be animated by such a high sense of respon- 
sibility, as to able to fulfil the noble mission of making a 
governed people self-governing. 

I would like to refer to another matter, and that is the 
Meston Committee's Award to Bengal. Now that the salt tax 
has been reduced I am not at all certain what will happen to 
provincial contributions. (The Honourable Sir Basil Blackett : 
"Hear, hear"). It was nothing short of an injustice that was 
done to my province by the Meston Committee. We have been 
told that through some mysterious miscalculations the Com- 
mittee did not see its way to allow Bengal to have sufficient 
revenue to meet her normal expenditure, not to speak of any 
margin for desired expansion in any direction. Perhaps the 
Honourable Members are aware that Bengal gets nothing of 
the income of its various industrial and manufacturing activities. 
What has been the result of this? The result has been that by 
an unfortunate irony of fate one of the wealthiest provinces in 
the Empire has to live upon, what shall I say, charity. It had 
to ask, as a matter of grace, for what it could have claimed as 
a matter of right. But for the remission made by thte Govern- 
ment of India of 63 lakhs of its contribution the administration 



MEMBER' OF COUNCIL OF STATE 67 

of the province would have been very seriously dislocated. In 
presenting the Budget for 1923-24 the Finance Member of Bengal 
observed : 

"We cannot look on this Budget with any great satisfaction. 
It makes no provision for the development and allows for no 
progress. It merely permits the carrying on of the administration 
in its minimum essentials and that, too, only by drawing to 
some extent on our balances. >v 

Sir, I cannot persuade myself to believe, as some people are 
so uncharitable as to say, that the financial embarrassment of 
Bengal was purposely caused in order to cripple her industrial 
and political activities. What I believe is that it was to keep the 
topheavy administration of the Central Government agoing that 
the financial resources of the provinces had to be drawn upon. 
Unless there is a substantial reduction in the expenditure on 
administration, particularly under the military head, I do not 
think it is possible to restore financial equilibrium. That more 
than half the revenues of the country, over 60 crores out of 107, 
is required for the purposes of defence unmistakably shows that 
there is not that freedom from fear from external invasions and 
internal disturbances which the country is entitled to enjoy under 
a Government such as the British. I think, Sir, as many of my 
countrymen think, that the military policy of the Government 
of India requires a thorough revision, and a searching inquiry 
into the proportion which the military expenditure should bear 
to the general expenditure of the administration is urgently called 
for. Until this is done, unless the permanent expenditure of the 
administration is curtailed to an appreciable extent, there can 
be little hope, I think, of placing the finances of the country on 
a sound and satisfactory basis. In conclusion, I would like to 
say that I endorse every word that my Honourable friend, Sir 
Deva Prasad Sarvadhikary, said with regard to the right of this 
House to scrutinise and criticise the details of the Budget and 
to come to a definite conclusion of its own before passing the 
Finance Bill simply because it was thrown out by the other 
House." 



68 UFE OF A. KARIM 

On isth September, 1924, the Hon'ble Mr. J. Crerar 
(Home Secretary) moved a Resolution regarding the adop- 
tion of the recommendations of the Royal Commission on 
the Superior Civil Services in India (generally known as- 
Lee Commission). To this several amendments were 
moved by different members. The Hon'ble Mr. (now Sir) 
Yamin Khan in his speech, regarding his amendment 
observed "I have a pamphlet with me prepared by my 
Honourable colleague, Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib, who* 
has given the figures here. It was sent to the Government 
of India, I believe, in the last winter session, and he has 
given the figures of all. I shall not thrust the details upon 
the House, but I shall give the totals of all the figures 
that the Musalmans, in all these Departments, Railway, 
Finance and Accounts, Public Works Department, Educa- 
tion, Police, Agriculture, Jails, Medical, Judicial, Indian 
Civil Service, in all of them together their percentage is 
2.9. This is their ratio at present in the All-India Govern- 
ment Services . . . " 

After the Hon'ble Mr. Yamin Khan the Hon'ble 
Maulvi Abdul Karim spoke as follows : 

"Sir, I beg to second the amendment, though I am not quite 
sure that this important problem can be properly solved by an 
amendment of the kind that has been moved. As regards the 
Indianisation of the Services, my community is as keen as any 
other community in India, but naturally they desire that they 
should get their legitimate share in the services of the country 
and Indianization should not amount practically to non- 
Muslimisation. I think Honourable Members are not perhaps 
unaware that the representation of the Muslims in Government 
services has hitherto been most inadequate. In some of the most 
important Services, they are altogether unrepresented,, and in 
others their representation is far below what their numerical 
strength, communal importance and administrative capacity 



MEMBER OF COUNCIL OP STATE 69 

-entitle them to get. In some of the Services, they are altogether 
'unrepresented, as I have said. In the pamphlet, referred to by 
my Honourable friend, I have shown that in the Superior Civil 
Services in India their proportion barely comes up to 3 per cent, 
while the proportion of non-Muslim Indians comes up to over 
20 per cent, and that of the Europeans and Anglo-Indians to over 
76 per cent. Such disparity in the number of Government 
-employees belonging to different communities cannot but foster 
much discontent and ultimately lead to great administrative 
difficulties. This is a fact, Sir, that should not be lost sight of 
by any of the parties concerned. It is about two years ago that 
~a Resolution was passed in the Assembly that "in making 
recruitment for the Services under the Central Govern- 
ment, steps should be taken to secure that Services are not 
unduly over-weighted with representation of any one community 
or province and that as far as possible claims of all communities 
and provinces are considered." 

I believe it was an amended Resolution by my Honourable 
-Colleague in front of me. If prompt action had been taken on 
this Resolution, there would have been hardly any cause for com- 
plaint. As far as I am aware no effect has been given to the 
Resolution up to this time, and the Muslims now are as 
conspicuous by their absence in many of the offices under the 
Government of India as they were before. This had to be 
admitted by the Honourable Mr. Crerar and other officials who 
gave answers to my questions on the subject in this House. I 
do not like to take up the time of this House by citing concrete 
instances of unjust ignoring of the claims of deserving Muslim 
^candidates. Suffice it to say that there have been, to my know- 
ledge, many instances of this kind. 

So long the excuse for not appointing Muslims was that they 
did not possess the requisite intellectual qualifications. Now 
that they have taken University degrees and have qualified them- 
selves in that respect, other excuses are brought forward, I regret 
to say, to keep them back. If due credit had been given for 
strong physique, family traditions, mental calibre, moral stamina, 
administrative capacity and a sense of honesty and integrity, a 



70 UFE OF A. KARIM 

combination of all of which makes an ideal officer, I believe my 
community would not have suffered so much as they have done. 
I think it would be uncharitable to presume that the descendants 
of those who ruled India for about seven centuries have so far 
deteriorated as not to be able to discharge the duties of responsible 
posts under the present Government. 

When such is the position of Muslims in respect of Govern- 
ment service, it is strange that an impression should have gained 
ground among some of the non-Muslims that Government have 
been especially favouring the Muslims at their cost. It is hoped 
that the facts and figures given in the pamphlet refened to by 
the mover of this amendment, would show that far from any 
special favour having been shown to the community, justice has 
not been done to them in the matter of appointments to Govern- 
ment service. It has been noted, however, with satisfaction that 
in discussing the recommendations of the I^ee Commission, Sir 
Alexander Muddiman made an announcement in the Legislative 
Assembly regarding the employment of Muslims and other mino- 
rity communities. It is hoped that early steps would be taken 
to remove the grievances of these communities. 

Unemployment among the Muslim graduates and under- 
graduates has been causing for some time in some parts of the 
country great anxiety. If they join hands with the unemployed 
graduates and under-graduates of other communities, some of 
whom, I regret to have to say, have committed regrettable 
excesses, woe betide the country. I hope and trust that all well- 
wishers of India will devise means to minimise unemployment 
among the educated as far as possible. 

If I had any hand in the framing of the amendment moved 
by my Honourable friend, I would have excepted Bengal also- 
from the amendment, because I am not certain that Mussalmans 
of Bengal will accept the proportion he has fixed. But, as I 
have said I do not think it is possible for this House to solve 
this important problem. I think it is a case of mutual under- 
standing between the different communities inhabiting India, and 
I have reason to hope that the time is soon coming when they- 



MEMBER OF COUNCIL OF STATE 71 

will realise the gravity of the situation and will try to come to> 
an amicable settlement." 

Maulvi Abdul Karim's speeches, those mentioned and 
others, created such a good impression that he was 
requested, from time to time, by some of the honourable 
members to support the resolutions they proposed to move. 
The Hon'ble Sardar Jogendra Singh (afterwards a Minister 
in the Punjab) requested him to support his resolution, 
"This Council recommends to the Governor-General in 
Council that at least one competent Indian should be 
appointed as early as possible to the Railway Board taking 
into consideration the wide range of Railway activities' 1 , 
and M. Abdul Karim spoke as follows: 

"I am exceedingly glad that Government has accepted this 
Resolution. The Railway Board has the largest number of 
employees in any of the departments of the Government of India. 
I believe no other department requires so many hands to carry 
on the work. On the 31st of March 1923 there were 750,000 rail- 
way servants in India. I am sorry to have to say that for a long 
time the superior railway service was closed to the Indians. I 
am glad, however, to have been told by the Honourable Member 
who has replied to vSardar Jogendra Singh, that of late Indianisa- 
tion has been going on satisfactorily. There are about 2,000- 
officers in the superior ranks, and of these only a few are Indians. 
There is hardly any Indian, 1* think there is no Indian, holding 
any responsible post in the railway service, such as Agent, Chief 
Engineer, L,oco Superintendent, Chief Controller of Stores, or 
Traffic Manager in any of the Indian railways. Even in the 
subordinate railway service, the number of Indians is very small. 
Most of these posts are monopolised by Anglo-Indians, who 
now-a-days call themselves pure Indians. 

The railways being the property of Indian tax-payers, it is 
but natural that Indians should desire, nay demand, that these 
should be* worked in the interests of Indians. But I am afraid 
this has not been the case. It has been said by the Honourable 



72 UFE OF A. KARIM 

Mr. Bell that Indians cannot expect in the near future to get 
into the Railway Board because they will have to gain the 
requisite technical knowledge. As far as I see, the work of the 
Railway Board is broadly divided into four parts : (1) commercial 
and traffic, (2) financial, (3) engineering, and (4) administrative. 
I think there are Indians who can do each of these works as well 
as it is being done now. For example, Mr. S. C. Ghose was the 
first Indian Assistant Traffic Superintendent of the Bast Indian 
Railway and rose from Rs. 200 to Rs. 800. When he resigned 
this post, he joined the Khetra Mohan Company and constructed 
the Jessore-Jhenidah Railway, of which he was Manager. On 
severing his connection with the Khetra Mohan Company, he 
joined the McLeod Company and constructed the Burdwan-Katwa, 
Bankura Light and some other lines, and was appointed Manager 
of these lines on a salary of Rs. 2,000 a month. He then came to 
the Railway Board as a special officer on Rs. 1,500 and rose to 
3,000. He left the Railway Board on the completion of the special 
work. He is an expert in rates, on which he wrote a book which 
was highly appreciated by all the railway officials. I think he 
is well qualified to be a member of the Railway Board. Another 
function of the Board is financial. There is Mr. Hydari, who 
was Accountant-General of Bombay and is now the Financial 
Minister of Hyderabad. I think he is quite competent to take 
charge of the financial work of the Board. As for the Engineering 
Department, there is Rai Bahadur Ralla Ram, who was the Chief 
Engineer of the Eastern Bengal Railway on Rs. 2,500. I have no 
doubt he would have been the Agent of that Railway if he had 
not been an Indian. He is now the Manager of the Patiala State 
Railways. I think he is quite competent to do the engineering 
work of the Railway Board. There is another gentleman, Mr. Ali 
Akbar, who is a very experienced engineer. He was the Superin- 
tending Engineer and Secretary to the Government of Bombay. 
I think he also is competent to take charge of the engineering 
work of the Railway Board. As for the administrative depart- 
ment, Sir Ibrahim Rahimtulla, the President of the Fiscal Commis- 
sion and Sir Purshotamdas, I think, are quite competent to take 
charge of the administrative work of the Railway Board. I hope 



MEMBER OF COUNCIL OF STATE 73 

and trust that one of these men or some other competent man 
will be appointed a Member of the Railway Board in the near 
future. I need scarcely say that, unless and until a- competent 
native of India is appointed a Member of the Railway Board, the 
interests of Indians will not be properly looked after. 

This was M. Abdul Karim 's last speech in the Council 
of State. During the Simla session Maulvi Abdul Karim 
felt unwell and was told by medical experts that the high 
altitude of Simla was not agreeable to him. At this time 
the Right Hon'ble Srinivash Sastri resigned the member- 
ship of the Council of State for the same reason. When 
Maulvi Abdul Karim thought of attending the winter ses- 
sion at Delhi and then to tender resignation, a vacancy 
occurred in the Bengal Legislative Council. He could not 
stand for it without resigning the membership of the 
higher Council. So he tendered his resignation and offered 
himself as a candidate for election to the Bengal Council. 
The gentleman, who had stood in his way when he first 
sought election to the Bengal Council, was again up 
against him, although he had supported his candidature to 
the Council of State. It seems, for reasons known to him, 
he did not like that M. Abdul Karim should be a member 
of the Bengal Council. He again succeeded in getting 
him defeated by a few votes. But at the next Council 
-election M. Abdul Karim was returned by a large majority. 

It seems to have been a sad mistake on M. Abdul 
Karim's part to leave the Council of State, where he was 
doing very useful work, by which he became known 
throughout India. When a vacancy occurred in the post 
of Presidency Magistrate of Bombay, he received a telegram 
from the Musalmans of that town to try to get a Musalman 
appointed to the post. The only other Council member 



74 UFE OF A. KARIM 

who had received such a telegram was Mr. Jinnah. 
Similarly some Muslims of some other parts of India sought 
M. Abdul Karim's advice and assistance. 

The following is a copy of the "Note" of Maulvi 
Abdul Karim referred to by Mr. Yamin Khan in his 
Council speech : 

A Note in connection with the Report on the Superior 
Civil Services in India. 

When steps are taken to give effect to the recommendations 
of the I/ee Commission regarding the Superior Civil Services in 
India, the question of adequate representation of the Muslims in 
those Services should be taken into due consideration. It need 
hardly be stated that at present the community is wholly unrepre- 
sented in some of the most important Services and in others their 
representation is very far from what their numerical strength and 
communal importance entitle them to have. The replies given 
to the questions I asked in the Council of State (copy attached 
for reference) clearly show how very discouraging the situation is 
to the Muslim community. At the headquarters of the Govern- 
ment of India there was not, in March last, a single Muslim Officer 
in any of the Imperial Secretariat offices, while there were 20- 
non-Muslim Indians holding positions of trust and responsibility. 
There are about 2,000 Officers in all the Indian Railways and of 
these not even 50 are Muslims. In the Military Finance Depart- 
ment, if my information is correct, there is not a single Muslim 
Officer in the whole of India. The Finance, and Accounts Depart- 
ment has about 130 Indian Officers of whom not even 10 are 
Muslims. Out of 50 Indian officers in the Scientific Services 
under the Department of Industries and I/abour only 3 are 
Muslims. Thus on the whole the number of Muslim Officers, as 
will be seen from the attached special notes on the different 
services, does not perhaps exceed 5 per cent of the total number of 
Indian Officers, although the community is entitled to get about 
one-third of the posts. Such disparity in the number of Govern- 
ment employees belonging to different communities' inhabiting the 



MEMBER OF COUNCIL OF STATE 75- 

country cannot but foster much discontent and ultimately lead to* 
great administrative difficulties. Perhaps it is such feelings that 
influenced some members of communities well-known for their 
steadfast loyalty to Government to join movements hostile to it. 
In such circumstances would it not be politic to take, without 
further delay, such steps as would remedy this deplorable state 
of things ? 

2 Perhaps the most effective method of ensuring adequate 
representation of a community in any particular Service, is to 
fix a definite percentage of officers to be recruited from that 
community. The Lee Commission realised the necessity of such 
a procedure and, therefore, recommended that a definite percentage 
should be fixed for the recruitment of officers, European and 
Indian. What I would suggest is that the percentage fixed for 
Indians* be subdivided into Muslim and non -Muslim. The 
announcement made by Sir Malcolm Hailey in the Legislative 
Assembly on the 10th March, 1923, that there should be no prepon- 
derance of any class or community in the Services under the 
direct control of the Government of India, leaves no doubt as to' 
the acceptance by the Government of the principle of communal 1 
representation in the Services. Unless, however, a definite per- 
centage is fixed and officers are recruited keeping this in view, 
the continuance of preponderance of certain communities in the 
Services can hardly be checked. Recruitment of officers from 
different communities in proportion to the percentage fixed will 
create an atmosphere of tranquillity by putting a stop to petty 
quarrels and jealousies, and complaints regarding the usurpation 
of rights and privileges of one community by another will cease. 
Then there will be no longer any ground for the allegation that 



* The following percentages have been recommended for 
Indians : 

1. I.C.S. 50 per cent. 5. Political 25 per cent. 

2. Police 50 6. Customs 50 

3. Forest 75 7. Telegraphs 75 ,, 

4. Irrigation 60 ,, 8. Railway 75 , 



76 UFE OF A. KARIM 

the claims of any particular community have been unjustly 
ignored and that there has been such an overwhelming prepon- 
derance in the Services of any particular community as to be said 
that India is practically their Raj. The Muslims are as keen 
about the Indianization of the Services as any other community. 
But if Indianization practically amounts to Hinduization they 
cannot welcome it. 

3. The fixation of percentage of officers in Government 
service for particular communities is not a new thing. , The 
attached copies of circulars issued by the Government of Bengal 
will clearly show that action in this line was taken by that 
Government so far back as 1897 in respect of the important 
Department of Education. No serious objection, so far as I 
am aware, was taken and the efficiency of the Department has 
not suffered on account of the percentage of officers from the two 
important communities having been fixed. If, in a Department 
in which academic attainments are more in requisition than 
elsewhere, efficiency has not been affected by fixation of percen- 
tage of officers on communal grounds, there can be no reasonable 
risk of its deterioration in other departments, if similar action 
is taken. It may be noted in this connection that an important 
section of the Hindu community have agreed to the adoption of 
a fixed percentage of officers belonging to particular communities. 

I understand the Meteorological Department of the Govern- 
ment of India, some years ago, fixed the percentage of 
Subordinate Hindu and Muslim employees in the offices under it. 
No objection* was raised to this and work is going on as smoothly 
as ever. Does not all this clearly show that there is no reason 
to think that the system of fixed percentage of officers from 
different communities will prove unworkable ? 

4. It is far from my intention, in making the above- 
mentioned suggestion, that the efficiency of the Services should 
in any way be affected. What is wanted is that properly qualified 
candidates from different communities should be impartially 
recruited for the Services, so that they may not be monopolised 
by any particular community. If competitive examinations are 
held, the best of the Hindu candidates and the best of the 



MEMBER OF COUNCIL, OF STATE 77* 

Muslim candidates may be separately selected in proportion to* 
the fixed percentage. 

5. A sufficient number of Muslim candidates with the 
requisite qualifications might not have been available in the past, 
but at present there is no dearth of Muslim graduates and under- 
graduates, well-qualified for Government Service. In fact 
unemployment among them has been causing such discontent as^ 
it would be unwise to ignore. Besides, the University test, I 
think, is not the only criterion of efficiency as, I believe, I con- 
clusively proved in a letter which I addressed some time ago to 
the Press, on the "Muslims and Government Service. " There 
are qualifications other than intellectual, such as strong physique, 
mental calibre, moral stamina, family traditions, social position, 
administrative capacity, sense of honour and integrity, a combina- 
tion of all of which makes an ideal officer. I understand there 
are several Muslims in subordinate capacities in Government 
offices, who are fully qualified for higher positions to which they 
cannot rise on account of overcrowding by non-Muslims. 

6. It is difficult to find out from the Administration Reports 
the number of Muslim employees in different offices. In order to 
meet this difficulty I proposed in one of the questions I asked in 
the Council of State that Muslim and non-Muslim employees in 
the Railway Department should be separately shown in future 
in the Explanatory Memorandum on the Railway Budget as well 
as in Appendix B of the Administration Report (Vol. VI), as is 
done in the case of Europeans and Anglo-Indians. In reply I 
was told that the tabulation of the information asked for would 
throw extra work on the Railway Administration, which, in the 
circumstances, Government were not prepared to ask them to> 
undertake. I believe the extraction of the required information 
from the lists of staff maintained in different offices will hardly 
entail any very heavy extra work. An intelligent clerk, I think, 
should be able to do the work in an hour or so. I need scarcely 
say that in the absence of this information, effect can hardly be 
given to the policy of preventing the preponderance of any one 
class or community in the Government Services in pursuance 
of the policy referred to above. Moreover, I think such informa- 



7o LIFE OF A. KARIM 

tion should be published in the interests of Government itself, 
so that people may have no suspicion in the matter and there 
may be no occasion for allegations as regards subordination of 
Muslim interests to the clamour of more powerful communities 
and as regards hesitation on the part of Government to publish 
it for fear of exposure. In order to remove such an unpleasant 
impression, it is desirable that Muslim and non-Muslim employees 
in all the Departments under the control of the Government 
of India should be separately shown in the Annual Administra- 
tion Reports and such other publications. It would also be useful 
if comparison were made with the figures of the previous year 
so that it might be easily seen what progress has taken place 
in the course of one year. It would be well to advise the Local 
Governments to follow the same procedure in case of the Depart- 
ments under their control. 

It would be a great advantage if Dr. Rushbrcok Williams 
could give in his book "India in 1923-24", which he must be 
preparing now, statistics in the following form : 



Salaries. 


TOTAL NUMBER xr nv -T*rniA>ic, T*rmAWQ 
OF EMPLOYEES. -NON-INDIANS. INDIANS. 





Euro- 
peans. 


Anglo 
Indians 


Muslims 


Non- 
MushniB. 


Drawing Rs. 1,000 and over 












Drawing between Rs. 500 
and 1,000 












Drawing between Rs. 250 
and 500 












Drawing between Rs. 100 
and 250 




... 








Drawing between Rs. 50 
and 100 












Drawing below Ra. 50 ... 












Menials 
TOTAL 












... 











MEMBER OF COUNCIL OF STATE 79 

I need scarcely say that periodical publication of statistics 
showing the number of Muslim employees in the different Depart- 
ments under the Government will have a reassuring effect on the 
community. 

7. In order to effectively safeguard the interests of the 
Muslim community in respect of Government Services, it is most 
desirable that there should be on the proposed Public Service 
Commission an adequate representation of the community. In 
view of their grievances it would not be perhaps unreasonable 
to suggest that two of the five members of the proposed Com- 
mission should be Muslims, so that they may be in a position to 
protect the interests of their co-religionists. The Secretariat staff 
of the Public Service Commission should have an adequate num- 
ber of Muslims both in the Superior and Subordinate grades. 

Briefly, the position is that the number of Muslims in the 
Government Services is very small, and there is such a prepon- 
derance of other communities that it may lead to administrative 
difficulties. Early steps should, therefore, be taken for the 
appointment of an adequate number of Muslims. Qualified candi- 
dates are now available. 

Perhaps the most effective method of ensuring adequate 
representation of the Muslim community is to fix a definite per- 
centage of officers to be recruited from that community. Statistics 
showing the number of officers belonging to different communities 
should be published periodically. There should be adequate 
representation of the Muslim community on the proposed Public 
Service Commission for the protection of their interests. 

Simla, ABDUI, KARIM, 

The 1st June, 1924. Member of the Council of State. 



80 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

The following is a copy of a representation made by 
the Muslim members of the two India Councils regarding 
M. Abdul Karim's above-mentioned "Note" : 

Simla, the 10th June, 1924. 
"To 

THE HONOURABLE SIR ALEXANDER MUDDIMAN, KT., c.s.i., C.I.E., 
Member in Charge of the Home Department. 

SIR, 

We, the undersigned members of the Council of State and 
the Legislative Assembly beg to submit herewith the enclosed 
Note, drawn up by the Honourable Maulavi Abdul Karim, on 
the paucity of Muslims in the Government Service. It will be 
seen that in some of the Departments under the Government of 
India there is not a single Muslim Officer and in others their 
proportion is not even 5 per cent of the total number of Officers. 
For instance, the Indian Railways have got about 2,000 Officers, 
of whom not even 50 are Muslims. We need hardly say that 
this is a state of things that calls for immediate remedial measures. 
As pointed out in the note, unless a definite percentage is fixed 
for the recruitment of Muslim officers it is not possible to secure, 
for a very long time to come, adequate representation of the 
community in the Services. We have reason to believe that now 
there will be no dearth of Muslim candidates with the requisite 
qualifications. In these circumstances we beg to request the 
favour of your kindly taking early steps to remove the grievances 
of the Muslim community in the matter of appointment to 
Government Service. 

We have the honour to be, 

Sir, 

Your most obedient servants, 

(Sd.) Umar Hayat Tiwana. (Sd.) Md. Yakub. 

,, S. M. V. Oosman. , ,, Abul Kasem. 

Abdul Karim. G. Murtaza. 

Abdul Qaiyum. Alimuz Zaman Chaudhury. 

And 7 other members. 



MEMBER OF COUNCIL OF STATE 8l 

Maulavi Abdul Karim then led a deputation to the 
Viceroy, Lord Reading, to whom the following address 
was presented : 

"MAY IT PLEASE YOUR EXCELLENCY, 

We, the undersigned members of the Legislative Assembly 
and the Council of State, most respectfully beg to lay before 
Your Excellency the following facts regarding the inadequacy 
of representation of our community in the Services in India 
for Your Excellency's kind consideration. 

2. As few Muslims succeeded in entering Government service 
in the beginning, non-Muslims got an opportunity to monopolise 
most of the posts in different Departments. This state of things 
and certain events in the Punjab and elsewhere and also the 
publication of the I/ee Commission Report have brought the 
question into prominence. Agitation has been going on in the 
public press and meetings are being held all over the country 
emphasising the necessity of Muslims getting their due share in 
the Government Services. Facts and figures showing the position 
of Muslims in Government service were given in a pamphlet 
compiled by the Hon'ble Maulvi Abdul Karim of Bengal, which 
was submitted to Government in June last. In the summary 
printed on page 16 of the pamphlet it was shown that in the 
12 important Services which actually carry on the administration 
of the country, there are less than 3 per cent Muslim officers, 
while they are entitled to about 33 per cent on the basis of 
their numerical strength and communal importance. The condi- 
tion of Muslims in the subordinate services is in no way better 
than that in the higher services 

3. Mussalmans have been so long under the impression 
that their rights were being safeguarded; but they are grieved 
to find that they are in a hopeless minority in Government 
Service. On account of the non-Muslim monopoly in almost all 
the Departments, Muslims do not get an opportunity of getting 
into the services. The actual position of the Mussalmans in the 
services, as shown in the pamphlet referred to, is leading the 
Muslim public to a belief that the Government has not taken 
necessary steps to safeguard the interests of the community so 

6 



>2 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

far as the question of services is concerned. Some of them think 
that they cannot expect much from the Government which, 
yielding to the pressure of non-Muslim agitation, is giving more 
-and more every day to others, quite regardless of Muslim 
interests. 

4. In the debate in the Legislative Assembly held on the 
8th. February, 1924, on the grant of full self-government in 
India, Sir Malcolm Hailey laid great stress on the protection 
of the interests of the minority communities. It is, therefore, 
hoped that early steps would be taken to remove the grievances 
of these communities. 

5. If Muslims are given a chance to enter Government 
Service in sufficient numbers, we have no doubt they will be 
Able to hold their own with officers of other communities in 
-different ranks of the Services, by satisfactory discharge* of the 
duties entrusted to them. Unless Mussalmans are appointed 
in sufficient numbers to different Services, superior as well as 
subordinate, the administration of the country will practically 
pass into the hands of one particular community. 

6. There seems to be no valid objection to fixing the number 
of appointments to be reserved for the Mussalmans. The Lee 
Commission Report has fixed the number of appointments for 
Europeans and Indians. Indian appointments can similarly be 
sub-divided into Muslim and non-Muslim. Such a sub-division 
follows naturally from the recognized principle of separate com- 
munal representation. To make this principle more practicable, 
we respectfully beg to suggest that it may be incorporated in the 
revised rules under the Government of India Act, which will 
be framed as a result of the deliberations of the Reforms Enquiry 
Committee. 

7. The Hon'ble Sir Alexander Muddiman, who is in entire 
sympathy with Muslim aspirations, has suggested that the nomina- 
tion system of recruitment be introduced for the Muslims and 
other minority communities. He thinks that this is not a very 
satisfactory way of helping the backward communities, but he 
cannot think of any other way out of the difficulty. The object, 
however, can be attained, in our humble opinion, if the com- 



MEMBER OF COUNCIL OF STATE 83 

petitive examinations are so conducted as to enable the Musalmans 
to compete among themselves for the posts reserved for them, 
just as, we presume, under the L,ee Commission Report, 
Europeans will compete with Europeans and Indians with 
Indians. Thus the best Muslims and the best non-Muslims will 
.get the posts reserved for them. Such an arrangement is not 
unsupported by precedents. We understand the U. P. Govern- 
ment has introduced a competitive system of examination on 
that principle; and in the Punjab in competitive examination for 
the post of Extra Assistant Commissioner, University graduates 
and district candidates compete among themselves separately, such 
separate competition presenting no difficulty. Successful Muslim 
candidates in such competitive examinations, when put in charge 
of responsible posts, are sure to show equal, if not better, efficiency 
and administrative capacity as their non-Muslim countrymen. 

8. Such an arrangement would remove the charge which 
is unjustly laid at the door of the Government, that they foster 
Hindu-Muslim dissensions by keeping the billets in their gift 
and then favouring one community at the expense of another; 
this would also remove the bitter jealousies among the various com- 
munities. We understand that the Government has already fixed 
the number of recruits for the Army from different communities. 
We, therefore, fail to see why the same principle cannot be applied 
in Civil Departments. The extension of this principle to Civil 
Departments would, on the one hand, meet communal require- 
ments and, on the other, remove all misunderstanding on the 
subject. 

9. With regard to subordinate services, we beg to submit 
that the preponderating non-Muslim element in all departments 
succeeds in keeping out even able and efficient Muslims, who, 
if they get in at all, are often put to great trouble on account of 
the unsympathetic atttitude of the non-Muslim element working 
against them. If the number of Muslim posts is fixed in every 
department, the evil can be checked most successfully. 

10. We have ventured to go into the subject at some length, 
feeling, as we do, that grave political issues are involved. We 
thought it proper to bring these facts to Your Excellency's kind 



84 UFE OF A. KARIM 

notice, as we are sure that Your Excellency will take a sympa- 
thetic view and would be pleased to do what Your Excellency 
reasonably can, to remove the grievance of the community we 
have the honour to represent." 

Dated Simla, the 23rd September, 1924. 

Subsequently M. Abdul Karim had a private inter- 
view with His Excellency. Among other matters he re- 
presented that no Muslim from Bengal was ever appointed 
a member of His Excellency's Executive Council. As the 
late Mian Sir Muhammad Shafi was about to retire, M. 
Abdul Karim strongly urged the consideration of the case 
of Sir Abdur Rahim. His Excellency said that in case of 
such appointments All-India, and not Provincial, consi- 
derations guided the authorities. Thereupon M. Abdul 
Karim stated that he was urging the appointment of Sir 
Abdur Rahim not simply because he was a Bengal Muslim,, 
but also because he was an All-India personality, having 
served as a Judge of the Madras High Court, and for some 
time as its Chief Justice, he was also a member of the 
Royal Commission on Services in India. Lord Reading said 
that what M. Abdul Karim had represented would be 
taken into consideration. He afterwards learnt that the 
appointment of Sir Habibullah had been previously decided 
upon. 

Sir Alexander Muddiman, Member in Charge of the 
Home Department, was, very much impressed by M. 
Abdul Karim's representation. At the close of the Simla 
Session when he went to take leave of him, he said, U I 
shall not forget that you do not want Hinduisation of 
Services/' Sometime after Sir Alexander Muddiman came 
to Calcutta and put up with the Hon'ble Sir Stephenson. 
One day Maulavi Abdul Karim went to see him. He told 



MEMBER OF COUNCIL OF STATE 85 

him, "I remember what you told me about Indianisation of 
Services. I was dining last night with the Chief Justice 
and I spoke to him about the appointment of Muslims 
in the Judicial Service. He told me that Muslims had 
not good lawyers among them. 11 Hearing this M. Abdul 
Karim said, ''he was quite right ; we have not got 
Rashbeharis ; but is it Rashbeharis who are appointed 
Munsifs? My information is that it is only those Hindu 
lawyers, who fail to be successful at the Bar that accept 
Munsifships ; as for the Muslim lawyers, the best among 
them have to accept Munsifship if it can be secured, 
because they have not got, like their Hindu brethren, 
such lawyers at the Bar as can help them in their practice." 
M. Abdul Karim added, "If you call for one hundred 
judgments passed by Hindu Munsifs and one hundred 
judgments passed by Muslim Munsifs and find that on 
appeal more of the judgments passed by the latter were 
upset than those passed by the former, then I have nothing 
to say, but if you find less or even equal number of 
Muslim Munsifs' judgments were reversed on appeal, then 
you cannot say the Hindu Munsifs are better qualified than 
the Muslim Munsifs." Sir Alexander Muddiman seemed 
to have been impressed by what M. Abdul Karim stated. 
A week after M. Abdul Karim had an interview with I^ord 
Lytton, who told him the very same thing about the 
appointment of Muslims as Munsifs (most probably His 
Excellency, the Chief Justice and Sir Alexander Muddiman 
dined together and had a talk about the appointment of 
Muslims) and M. Abdul Karim gave him the same reply. 
The result was that since that time more Muslim lawyers 
have been appointed Munsifs. I believe during the last 



36 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

fifteen years many more Muslims have been appointed 
Munsifs than during the previous fifty years. This shows 
that much depends upon the manner in which a repre- 
sentation is made. 

Informal offer of Vice-Chancellorship. When Maulavi 
Abdul Karim was in the Council of State, one day the 
late Sir Bhupendranath Basu, who was at that time Vice- 
Chancellor of the Calcutta University, called upon him, 
probably at the instance of I^ord Lytton, and enquired 
of him, "Can you suggest any name, preferably that of a 
Muslim, who may be appointed Vice-Chancellor of the 
Calcutta University ori the expiration of my term?" 
When one or two names that M. Abdul Karim mentioned 
were not approved, Sir Bhupendranath said, "What about 
you ? May I know if you are willing to accept the Vice- 
Chancellorship." Replying in the negative, M. Abdul 
Karim said that it would not be convenient for him to 
stay at Calcutta as his health and that of his family required 
his stay at Ranchi during the greater part of the 
year. Besides, there was no pay for the Vice-Chancellor, 
and it would be difficult for him to maintain two decent 
establishments, one at Ranchi and another at Calcutta. 
Moreover, he had to attend meetings of the Council of 
State at Delhi and Simla. If M. Abdul Karim had agreed, 
he would have been the first Muslim Vice-Chancellor of 
the Calcutta University. 



CHAPTER VII. 
A MEMBER OF BENGAL LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL. 

This volume has already run sufficient length. 
Maulavi Abdul Karim's work in the Bengal Legislative 
Council, for about a decade, will require a volume of 
its own. I propose, therefore, to print M. Abdul Karim's 
speeches in the Bengal Council, dealing with various 
important subjects, in a separate volume with the excep- 
tion of two, which are being printed as specimens. His 
important speeches were published in newspapers with 
laudatory comments. On more occasions than one he was 
congratulated not only by his non-official colleagues but 
also by some of the Government members, such as, the late 
Sir Provash Chunder Mitter, Sir B. L. Mitter, Mr. (now 
Sir Robert) Reid, Mr. G. P. Hogg, the late Nawab 
Bahadur Nawab AH Chaudhury, and Nawab Bahadur 
Sir Abdul Karim Ghuznavi. Those who heard M. Abdul 
Karim speak in the Council meetings will fully subscribe to 
the following remarks of the Amrit Bazar Patrika in its 
issue of 24th February, 1937: "On the Muslim benches 
the absence of Maulavi Abdul Karim, perhaps the oldest 
among the Muslim members, will be keenly felt. His 
fine English, his persuasive eloquence, and his sober 
views combined to have a steadying influence on the 
House when it was swayed by a storm of passions and 
prejudices. When he spoke his voice shook with fervour 
of his emotions and though so old, his words could be 
distinctly heard from the farthest end of the House." It 



UFE OF A. KARIM 

is the misfortune of Bengal, particularly of the Bengal 
Muslims, that such active and useful members were 
shunted out of the Council by the undreamt-of treachery 
of some of those whom they honestly believed to be their 
well-wishers and for whom they did all they could. All 
this will be fully described in the second volume, so that 
the younger generation may learn a lesson that may stand 
them in good stead in their life. * 

On account of the renewed opposition of the same 
person, who had opposed his election to the Bengal Legis- 
lature on previous occasions, it might have been difficult 
for M. Abdul Karim to enter the Bengal Council had not 
Sir Abdur Rahim come to his help. He supported him 
whole-heartedly and went so far as to go to Midnapur 
and some other places to canvass for him. In such cir- 
cumstances it may seem strange that when an occasion 
arose for putting him in a responsible position, he was 
superseded by one whom Sir Abdur Rahim claimed to 
have "raised from the dust," and whose subsequent faith- 
lessness he described as "the greatest surprise of my 
life." 

Resolution for an Upper Chamber. 

"I rise to oppose the Resolution. In these days when there 
is an insistent demand for democratic institutions, a proposal for 
the establishment of an Upper Chamber is a retrograde move. 
Having been, for some time, a member of such a chamber, the 
Council of State, I am not unaware of its composition and work- 
ing. We have not got from any quarter the slightest indication 
as to what the proposed Chamber would be like. Wcodcl it be 
a replica of the British House of Lords, which has outgrown its 
utility, and for the abolition of which, in spite of its age-long 



A MEMBER OF BENGAL LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL 89 

traditions, there is persistent agitation? Would it be something 
like the Indian Council of State, which is dominated by the 
representatives of the titled and landed aristocracy and capitalists, 
-and is thus the negation of democracy? Though intended to be 
a revising body and to serve as a check on hasty legislation, 
instances are not wanting of the obstruction of useful measures 
that were not in the particular interests of those who usually elect 
and nominate members of this Chamber. In a province like 
Bengal, the establishment of an Upper Chamber, I need hardly 
say, would be most detrimental to the interests of the bulk of its 
people. Without knowing the constitution and the real functions 
of the Provincial Upper Chamber, it would be something like 
signing a blank cheque to agree to its being established. I am 
not quite certain that the mover of the resolution has not con- 
fused Federal Government in other countries with its Federating 
units. Federal Governments, as a rule, have two Chambers, but 
constitutions corresponding to that of our Provincial Administra- 
tion, generally have only one Chamber. 

Under the Reform Scheme of Administration, which is at 
present operating, while an Upper Chamber was established at 
the centre, it was not thought necessary to have such chambers 
in the provinces. Might I enquire what has happened in the mean- 
time to justify the establishment of such Chambers in the Pro- 
vinces under the new constitution ? The Punjab and the Assam 
Legislative Councils threw out proposals for Second Chambers in 
those Provinces, and Madras, I understand, has decided not to 
have such a Chamber. What is undesirable for these provinces 
is undesirable for Bengal also. It is only in the U P., the strong- 
hold of landed aristocracy, that the proposal for a Second Chamber 
has been accepted. 

Bengal is pre-eminently an agricultural province, where the 
interests of the tillers of the soil really constitute the interests 
of the country. Should anything be done that would jeopardise 
those interests? Higher franchise * f or the Upper Chamber 
would, as a rule, preclude people of moderate means, who form 
the majority of the intelligentsia, from finding a place in it, and 
the result will be that measures beneficial to the aristocratic and 



90 UFE OF A. KARIM 

capitalistic classes, but prejudicial to the masses, would always 
find ready support. 

Deprived, as Bengal has been, of the income from some of her 
most lucrative sources, it would be difficult for her to bear the 
burden of maintaining two costly Chambers 

As regards the constitution of the Upper Chamber, in the 
existing circumstances I cannot think of a basis other than 
communal on which such a chamber can be constituted. The 
Prime Minister's assurance in the statement on the communal 
award that the "communal balance" will not be disturbed in any 
Provincial Second Chamber, supports this view. The present 
Council of State has been constituted on communal basis. If its 
precedent is followed, any ulterior motive that there might be 
for getting a Second Chamber, would be frustrated and dis- 
illusionment might come when it would be too late. All these 
aspects of the question, I need hardly say, require most serious 
consideration. 

There is not much to be chosen between the aristocrats of 
one community and those of another. As a class they are sure to 
combine for the furtherance of their own particular interests which, 
as a rule, cannot be identical with the interests of the masses. 

While large powers are going to be reserved for the Governor 
and the Central Government will have some revisory jurisdiction, 
I think there cannot be any justification for a Provincial Upper 
Chamber in Bengal." 

The Bengal Whipping Bill. 

"It is extremely to be regretted that in a matter in which 
there ought to have been perfect unanimity, irrespective of creed 
and community, there should have unfortunately arisen most un- 
called for difference. I am not willing to add to the acrimonious 
controversy that seems to me to be far from creditable to the 
House. 

No true religion, to my mind, can minimise the criminality 
of the offence that is proposed to be tackled with. As for Islamic 
injunctions regarding sexual immorality, I am afraid the so-called 



A MEMBER OF BENGAL LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL QI 

civilised modern man with modern notions of social jurisprudence 
will simply shudder at the severity. I refrain from detailing the 
drastic punishments prescribed by the Holy Quran for such crimes 
lest I should be looked upon as a barbarian among so many 
"civilised" and ultra-modern gentlemen. Had it not been for the 
lamentable laxity in morals tolerated, and in some cases even 
caused, by so-called present day civilisation, no % occasion would 
have arisen for the controversy that is embittering our feelings 
in this House. 

Taking things as they are, it is most desirable, nay essen- 
tially necessary, that effective steps should be taken to put down 
such heinous crimes. It is most unfortunate however, that an 
element of what is called communalism should have crept into 
the discussion of such an important matter. I cannot persuade 
myself to believe that the sponsor of the proposed measure, who 
is a great admirer of the Prophet of Islam, ever thought that 
there was any likelihood of its being abused in the manner of 
which some indication has been given. What can be more repre- 
hensible than that such a measure should be used by designing 
people for a vindictive purpose? Exaggerations are made and 
undue and uncalled for prominence is given in the press and 
platform by one community to the crimes committed by the 
ruffians in the other. Need I remind those concerned that the 
more such ugly things are publicly discussed the more the 
atmosphere is vitiated. Had there been no bitterness and 
exaggeration it might not have been altogether a disservice to 
the cause of morality. But the spirit that prompts present pro- 
paganda in a certain section of the press and platforms cannot 
but be severely condemned. 

It is not at all unnatural that presence of young widows should 
tempt morally weak people to go astray. Human nature is every- 
where human nature. It is unfortunate that in this country most 
people in one community and some in the other are opposed to 
widow marriage. As long as the present state of things continues 
it will be very difficult to wipe out the evil. 

As to the savagery of severe punishment in the case of an 
extremely heinous crime, what may look savage to one may be 



92 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

regarded as a religious necessity by another. What about the 
savagery of the crime itself and the worst savagery of the bestia- 
lities and even murders that often accompany it ? 

May I ask in all seriousness should petty objection weigh 
with us when combined efforts are essential to the meeting of a 
situation that 19 so very discreditable, nay disgraceful to all con- 
cerned ? Should we not sink our differences and combine and 
co-operate in purging the country of a crime that is so very 
heinous both to God and man and the victims as well as the 
offenders of which come from both the communities as statistics 
undeniably prove ? 

There can be no question as to the urgency of devising means 
to check such evils. But as these have prevailed so long a little 
delay might not matter much. If the proposal for circulation 
is merely a plea for shelving or indefinitely postponing, it can- 
not be supported. In view, however, of the keenness for circula- 
tion shown by a number of members, 1 would appeal to Sir 
Brojendra to agree to the Bill being taken up at the end of the 
Budget Session. I need hardly say that it is most desirable that 
such a measure should be dispassionately deliberated upon in a 
calm atmosphere. If after thorough discussion it is found that 
the proposed punishment would really prove more deterrent than 
what has already been provided by the existing Law, then it may 
be adopted without hesitation. 

Calcutta Riot. When the Hindu-Muslim riot broke 
out in April, 1926, Maulavi Abdul Karim took the lead 
in devising means for the safety of the Muslims. As far 
as I have been able to ascertain no one exerted himself so 
much as he did for the relief of his afflicted co-religionists. 
Sir Abdur Rahim, Mr. (now Nawab Bahadur Sir) Abdul 
Karim Gaznavi, Maulvi Nurul Huq Chaudhury and some 
other leading Muslims of Calcutta co-operated with him 
at this critical time. M. Abdul Karim wrote a long note 



A MEMBER OF BENGAL LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL 93. 

(it will be published in Volume II), describing all that had 
happened and suggesting various means by which the 
calamity might be minimised. From the following copy of 
a letter he wrote to the Governor's Private Secretary, indi- 
cation may be had of the part he played during the crisis. 
He was sent for by the Governor, who discussed with him, 
the situation. 

13/1, Wellesley Square, Calcutta. 
The 29th April, 1926. 

DEAR MR. WILKINSON, 

I am sending herewith a copy of a note I drew up 
and of a letter I wrote to the Hon'ble Nawab Bahadur 
Nawab AH Choudhury regarding the regrettable riot 
which has made life and property in Calcutta most unsafe. 
These give some idea of the indescribable troubles we 
have been passing through and indicates certain measures, 
adoption of which might lead to restoration of peace and 
order. I shall be much obliged if you kindly place these 
before His Excellency the Governor. 

I am writing an exhaustive note on the riot during the 
Easter- Week and that is going on at present. Within two 
days of the breaking-out of the first riot a Muslim Relief 
Committee, which is located at my place, was formed at 
my instance. I am the Vice-President and Treasurer of 
the said Committee. I have thus been in constant touch 
with what has been occurring everyday. I shall send you 
a copy of the note when ready. 

Yours sincerely, 
(Sd.) ABDUL KARIM. 



Q4 IvIFE OF A. KARIM 

D. O. No. 930. 

Government House, Calcutta. 
3rd May, 1926. 

DEAR MAUI.VI SAHEB, 

I write to acknowledge your letter of April 29th. 
I have placed the enclosures before His Excellency. 

Yours sincerely, 
(Sd.) H. R. WILKINSON. 

Hindu-Muslim Riot in Pabna. Receiving news from 
Pabna that Hindus and Muslims were bitterly fighting with 
one another, Maulavi Abdul Kartm went there, accom- 
panied by Nawab Musharraf Hosain and succeeded in 
bringing about an amicable settlement between the two 
communities. Fortunately he found two of his old friends 
in charge of the District. The late Mr. Eradatullah was 
the District Judge of Pabna and Khan Bahadur Nasiruddin 
was the the District Magistrate. Both of them helped him 
in restoring peace at Pabna. 

Tanzim Movement. Shortly after the riot at Calcutta, 
Mr. Kitchlew, the Secretary of the All-India Tanzim 
Association, came to Calcutta and stayed with Maulavi 
Abdul Karim. When he went out on tour, M. Abdul 
Karim accompanied him to Chittagong, Dacca, Mymen- 
singh, Darjeeling, Bogra, Serajganj, Rangpur, Dinajpur 
and some other places. Great was the enthusiasm dis- 
played by the Muslims of these places. Largely attended 
meetings, in some of which the audience exceeded thirty, 
forty and even fifty thousand, were addressed by 
Mr. Kitchlew and M. Abdul Karim. 



CHAPTER VIII. 
PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS. 

Shortly after his retirement from service Maulavi 
Abdul Karim was elected President of the Bengal Muham- 
madan Educational Conference of which the late Nawab 
Bahadur Nawab Ali Chaudhuri was Secretary. Both of 
them continued in their offices for some years during 
which annual conferences were held at Burdwan and other 
places. When the late Maulavi Wahed Hossain succeeded 
the late Nawab Bahadur, Maulvi Abdul Karim was re- 
elected President and continued in this office as long as 
the Conference did any work. 

For about a decade M. Abdul Karim was the Presi- 
dent of the Bengal Muslim League when Maulavi 
Mujibur. Rahman was its Secretary. When Sir Abdur 
Rahim succeeded him as President of the League, M. 
Abdul Karim became its Vice-President. He was re- 
elected president when Sir Abdur Rahim resigned and 
continued in this office until 1937, when Dr. R. Ahmad 
was the Secretary of the League. At the annual meeting 
a rupture was caused by some designing people and M. 
Abdul Karim left the League. 

When the Muslim Graduates formed the "Bengal 
Muslim Graduates' Association", they persuaded M. Abdul 
Karim to be its President, in which office he continued as 
long as the Association existed. 

About five years ago M. Abdul Karim was elected 
President of the Islamic Mission Society, founded by the 



96 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

late Maulavi Abdul Aziz, father of Mr. Amin Ahmad, 
M.B.E. He is still the President of this Society, which 
has been doing useful Islamic work. 

President of Meetings. The first Educational Con- 
ference over which M. Abdul Karim was invited to preside, 
was held at Malda in February, 1916. The next Educa- 
tional Conference over which he presided was held at 
Burdwan in April, 1916. It was in fact the most 
important session of the Bengal Provincial Muhammadan 
Educational Conference. It was very largely attended by 
delegates from different districts of Bengal. The Director 
of Public Instruction, Bengal, the Maharajadhiraj of 
Burdwan, his venerable father, Raja Bunbehari Kapur, 
the late Mr. Roy, District Judge, and some other 
distinguished gentlemen graced the meeting by their 
presence. The presidential speech of M. Abdul Karim 
was much appreciated by the audience. Among the 

various subjects he dealt with in his speech was the dearth 



of educational experts in the community. 

"If we had in our community" he observed "educationists 
possessing the extensive knowledge, wide experience, and 
enthusiastic earnestness of a Sir Gurudas Banner ji or a Sir 
Ashutosh Mukherji, the condition of Muhammadan education, I 
have reason to believe, would have been very different from what 
it is. Without making a thorough study, to presume to have 
such a knowledge of the complicated questions connected with 
Muhammadan education as to be competent to advise the com- 
munity and the Government on the subject is, to put it mildly, 

to trifle with the most vital interests of the community 

It is no wonder therefore, that the cause of Muhammadan educa- 
tion has suffered grievously at the hands of pretentious people. 
As a concrete illustration of the deplorable waste of time, energy 
and money involved in such a process, I would refer to what is 
called the revised scheme of Madrasah education. This subject 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 97 

had attracted the attention of Government from time to time. 
At last when after long study and a careful consideration of all 
the circumstances, a scheme was drawn up in 1906, the Govern- 
ment appointed a large committee for its discussion. For want 
of a sufficient knowledge of the subject many of those who had to 
take part in the deliberations of the committee were not in a 
position to make very useful suggestions. Yet there was no lack 
of animated and even acrimonious discussion which led to such 
modifications of the proposed scheme as to have amounted to its 
virtual rejection, and a different scheme, known as the Barle 
Scheme, was adopted and put into operation. This scheme practi- 
cally proved a failure and the original scheme had to be adopted, 
after a decade, in the case of junior Madrasahs." 

As regards combination of religions and secular 
education, M. Abdul Karim said: 

"I have always held that unless and until there is 
a combination of secular and religious instruction in institu- 
tions intended for the education of Muhammadan boys, the 
complicated problem of Muhammadan education cannot be pro- 
perly solved The Prophet of Arabia inspired his followers with a 
religious fervour unexampled in the annals of religions. The 
peasants quitting their ploughs and saying their prayers in the 
paddy-fields, the labourers prostrating themselves in the streets 
when the time of prayer comes, are sights common in Muham- 
madan countries, but not to be met with elsewhere. To a Musal- 
man education means first religious education, secondly moral 
education and lastly professional Education. It was from a con- 
sideration of these facts that the education Commission, after 
mature deliberation, came to the conclusion that in the case of 
Muhammadan boys the 'teaching of the mosque must precede the 
lessons of the school*. The best course, therefore, is so to arrange 
matters as to give both these lessons in the same seminary and, 
as far as practicable, at the same time. The Maktabs and 
Patshalas in Muhammadan localities should be re-organised on this 
principle." 
7 



98 UFE OF A. KARIM 

The Maharajadhiraj of Burdwan took particular 
interest in the Conference, and the president and the 
Secretary were grateful to him for this. Since then the 
Maharajadhiraj has been very friendly to M. Abdul 
Karim. 

The next important Educational Conference over 
which M. Abdul Karim presided was the Annual Con- 
ference of the Sylhet Muslim Students' Association held 
at Sylhet in October, 1919. As he went to Sylhet after 
a long time he met with a splendid reception, as will 
appear from the following letter which a Sylhet corres- 
pondent wrote to the "Mussalman" : 

"The President-elect of the Sylhet Muslim Students' Associa- 
tion Conference, Maulavi Abdul Karim arrived at Sylhet on the 
16th October. Long before the train was timed to reach the 
station people began to flock from all parts of Sylhet without dis- 
tinction of caste and creed; the rich and the poor, the high and 
the low vied with one another in manifesting their enthusiasm in 
the matter of reception of one of their most reputed countrymen 
long absent from their midst. When the popular curiosity was 
heightened by the faint whistle of the rushing train both the 
station and the northern bank of the river Surma had become a 
sea of human faces. When the train halted the President with 
his eldest son, Maulavi Abdur Rahim, M.A , alighted amidst the 
resounding shouts of Marhaba Some bombs were fired in his 
honour. He was then taken to the Ghat and crossed the river 
in a nicely-decorated Jurinda boat. The procession then com- 
menced from the Chandni Ghat. It consisted of a number of 
horsemen, cyclists and footmen with flags in hand. The pro- 
fession was followed and lined on both sides by a large number 
of spectators. All honour to the Reception Committee and to the 
volunteers who could organise so splendid a reception, unpre- 
cedented in the annals of this ancient town. 

On Saturday, the 18th October, the conference sat under a 
large Shamiana erected in front of the Town Hall. The gather- 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 99 

ing was unprecedentedly large. The elite of the town and Muffasil, 
both Hindus and Musalmans, were present. The late Maulvi 
Syad Abdul Majid, alias Captan Mian, afterwards Education 
Minister of Assam, took a very active part in arranging M. 
Abdul Kanm's reception. 

In a long presidential speech M. Abdul Karim dealt 
with the different questions connected with Muhammadan 
Education. While speaking on Technical Education, he 
observed : 

"Up to this time the education of our boys has been almost 
exclusively literary with a view to enable them to earn their 
bread, and consequently satisfactory result at examinations, and 
not acquisition of knowledge, has been aimed at. Thus the 
educational institutions may be said to have manufactured only 
quill-drivers and office-hunters and not artisans or mechanics, 
experts in industry or commerce. The result has been deplorable 
congestion in positions and professions in which literary attain- 
ments are the requisite qualification, while other walks of life 
have been left almost untrodden by our young men. In these 
'Circumstances Sir P. C. Roy, the apostle of industrial education, 
was not altogether unjustified in feeling inclined to have the Law 
Colleges razed to the ground and to change the lines "Likha 
pora kore je gari ghora chore she" (He who writes and reads 
rides carriage and horse) into I/ikha pora kore je upabash kore 
she" (He who writes and reads has to fast). Many of you do 
not know, as I do, to what pitiable straits mdfny of our young men 
are reduced when they pass out of the college, some of 'them 
after obtaining even the degree of Bachelor of Arts. It is high 
time to devise means to meet this alarming situation. I think 
there should be careful elimination at every stage of instruction. 
It is most undesirable that every boy of average intelligence 
should be indiscriminately pushed up to the higher stages. Some 
boys should not proceed beyond the primary stage, some beyond 
the middle school stage, and others beyond the high school stage. 
Only boys of more than average intelligence and means should 
enter the University, and those of exceptional capacity should pro 



IOO UFE OF A. KARIM 

ceed to the Post-graduate stage. Boys thus eliminated at different 
stages of instruction should go to technical, industrial, commercial] 
and other schools according to their taste and capacity, to be 
trained as artisans, mechanics and business men. Exceptionally 
smart boys of the poorer classes may be encouraged by stipends 
to proceed to the higher stage. I think it is a mistake to 
encourage poor boys of average intelligence to aspire after a 
purely literary education. Parents should be very careful in the 
selection of a career for their sons. They must not compel them 
to adopt professions for which they might not have any inclina- 
tion or aptitude. As regards trade and commeice, Musalmans 
need hardly be reminded that they should regard it as a sunnat 
to follow such pursuits. The Prophet of Islam (upon whom be 
peace) not only advocated it, but was himself engaged in it. It 
was with the object of furthering the cause of trade that usury 
was so very strictly prohibited. I believe for the Musalmans 
there is a special Barkat in trade in as much as it was the pursuit 
for which the Prophet had a particular predilection. 

Matilavi Abdul Karim concluded his speech with the 

following advice to the students: 

"Gentlemen, before concluding my speech I should like to 
address a few words to my young friends, the Muhammadan 
students of Sylhet who, at no very distant date, will take our 
place in society and will guide the destinies of the community. 
I would remind you that you are now passing through that portion 
of your life which is best worth living and that your career in 
after life will depend very much on how you make use of the 
opportunities which the days passing by now offer you. The 
same qualities and characteristics that give you distinction among 
your comrades to-day, will bring you to the front among your 
fellowmen when you grow older. The first thing that you would 
do well to remember is that nothing worth doing can be done 
and nothing worth having can be got without pain and effort. 
Sometimes you will meet with difficulties and even disasters, but 
always bear in mind, in prosperity as well as in adversity, that 
whatever happens in our life comes about in accordance with the 
Divine Will to which we should always submit without a murmur. 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 101 

Islam enjoins, in fact Islam means, complete surrender to the Will 
*of God. 

"Good when He gives, supremely good 

Nor less when He denies; 
Afflictions from His sovereign hand 
Are blessings in disguise." 

Do not be disheartened by failures. Sometimes a failure 
serves as a stepping-stone to future success. If some of those 
who made their mark in the field of commerce and industry and 
in that of art and science had not met with failures, they would 
not have risen to the position to which they rose. Our greatest 
glory is not in never falling but m rising every time we fall. . . . 
Sometimes you may find one whom you consider to be your 
inferior in parts achieving better success than you do. Remember 
the race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong. 
Success depends not so much on the possession of good parts as 
on their proper utilisation. The object of education is to make 
you righteous men, intelligent citizens and well-behaved members 
of society. Remember the greatest distinction between ourselves 
and our neighbours, the brutes, is a good character, which should 
be the most distinctive feature of student life. In fact no two- 
legged creature is entitled to be called a man unless he bears an 
unsullied and unimpeachable character. All of you cannot be 
eminent scholars or high officials, but all of you can be good men. 
Try to be great if you can, but remember greatness connotes 
goodness. No one can be called great unless he is good. 

The object of human life, my young friends, is not like that 
of the lower animals to eat, drink and breed, but to worship the 
Creator and to serve his creatures. Unselfish service of fellow- 
'beings is the special prerogative of man. To sacrifice one's 
interests at the altar of common weal is the highest ideal 
that can be set before us. Man is not born, like the beast, for 
liimself, but he is a part of an organisation in which he has a 
service to render and a function to discharge. His own good 
consists in serving the whole of which he is a part, and so social 
service is the means of individual salvation. Whatever we learn 
and whatever we earn should be utilised more for others than 



*02 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

for self. Our objective should be to relieve distress, to alleviate 
suffering, in a word, to render happier, as far as in us lies, the 
lot of the needy and the friendless. 

"Life is merely forth and bubble, 

Two things live in stone, 
Kindess in another's trouble, 
Courage in our own." 

"According to Islam by serving humanity we serve God. 
'There is no worship better than the service of God's creatures/ 
Islam does not enjoin, as some people seem to think, retirement 
from the world with a view to lead a solitary life for worshipping 
God. On the contrary it requires the Musalmans to live in society 
and devote their life to social service. . . . Unless you set high 
ideals before you and try to act up to them, you cannot be much 
useful to society. When any ideal appears to you too high 
remember that the first condition of its being attainable is that 
you should believe it to be worthy of attainment. A good end 
can be attained only by good means. In fact the chief criterion- 
of an act being good is that it can be attained by good means. 
It is most desirable that a strong organisation of students were 
formed for the creation of a espirit de corps and a sense of 
solidarity, for the inculcation of right ideas and ideals, for the 
protection of those who are apt to be led astray and for the forma- 
tion of a strong public opinion among the student community 
which would expose rather than screen those whose character 

there might be reason to suspect In whatever sphere your 

lot is cast, with whatever duty you are entrusted, never be 
actuated by a mercenary spirit. Remember whole-hearted devo- 
tion to duty is the surest way to success in life. Always try to- 
keep down your expenses ; never add unnecessarily to your require- 
ments. Our forefathers sought happiness by self-denial, not by 
self-indulgence, by curtailing the wants of animal life, not by 
increasing them, by suppressing desires not by gratifying them. 
In conclusion I would exhort you to be true to your faith,, 
true to your community and true to your country. Regard it as- 
a most fortunate circumstance and a proud privilege that, you are 
born Musalmans. Do not merely talk of your religion, be not 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS IOJ. 

satisfied with loving it, always try to live it. Most practical a 
religion as Islam is, it is easier for the Musalmans to live it than 
for the followers of other religions to live theirs. While firm in 
your faith realise that your neighbour's faith is as dear to him 
as your own is to you, and remember that theological hatred is at 
the root of much mischief in this world. Be on the most cordial 
terms with your non-Muslim brethren. By your words, by your 
deeds, by your manners and by your appearance always show 
that you are proud to be recognised as a Musalman. The com- 
munity cannot feel proud of you, nay it may have to feel ashamed 
of you, if you try to hide your Islamic identity by borrowed dress, 
by un-Islamic habits, by outlandish manners 

Gentlemen, I am very much obliged to you for giving me 
such a patient hearing I had occasion to address larger gather- 
ings, some of the All-India meetings, but I assure you I never 
had a more appreciative audience". 

During M. Abdul Karim's stay at Sylhet the poet 
Rabindranath Tagore, on his way from Shillong to Calcutta 
through Sylhet, was given a hearty and enthusiastic 
reception. He halted at Sylhet for a few days and was- 
presented with an address in a largely-attended meeting, 
over which M. Abdul Karim presided. Since then the 
poet has been very friendly to him. 

The last Educational Conference presided over by M. 
Abdul Karim was the All-Bengal Government School 
Teachers* Conference, held at Howrah in December, 1924. 
The presidential speech was highly appreciated by the 
audience, mostly composed of school masters, who came 
from different districts in Bengal. 

Annual Session of Muslim League, 24-Parganas. 

The first political meeting over which Matilavi Abdul 
Karim presided was the annual meeting of the 24-Parganas 
District Muslim League, held at Magrahat, in May 



104 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

In his presidential speech M. Abdul Karim first referred 
to the death of the late Nawab Sir Salimullah and the late 
Mr. Gokhale as follows: 

"As the late Nawab Sir Salimullah was one of the founders 
of the Muslim League, of which yours is a branch, it is but 
natural that his premature death should be mourned by us on 
the first occasion we have met after the unfortunate occurrence. 
While many a Nawab goes down to the grave 'unwept, un- 
honoured and unsung', Nawab Salimulla's death has caused 
'widespread grief in the community. The cause is not far to seek. 
Unlike most other Nawabs, he heartily identified himself with 
all that concerned his co-religionists and did all that he could to 
further their interests. There was scarcely a movement affecting 
the interests of the Mussalmans in which he did not take a pro- 
minent part. Possessed of high intelligence, extraordinary re- 
sourcefulness and uncommon powers of conciliation and compro- 
mise, he exercised a wonderful influence over the Mnsalmans of 
Bengal. The death of such a man at such a time, when the com- 
munity is passing through a crisis, and following closely upon the 
demise of two of the master minds of Moslem India Shibli and 
Hali who by their inimitable writings and speeches infused a 
new spirit into their co-religionists, cannot but be regarded as 
-an irreparable loss to the community. I cannot think of any 
-other person who can take the unique position the late Nawab 
occupied, commanding as he did the highest esteem and deepest 
affection of his co-religionists and enjoying at the same time the 
unstinted trust and confidence of Government. May I hope that 
>our young men in general and those of the class to which the 
late Nawab belonged in particular, would follow in his footsteps 
and try to carry on the good work he began. It is very much 
to be regretted that practically nothing has yet been done to per- 
petuate the memory of such a man." 

Though not connected with any particular Muhammadan 
organisation a reference to the premature death of the greatest 
statesman and politician of modern India may not be out of place 
at this meeting. Perhaps no other Indian of our time was so 
widely known and so highly esteemed for his irreproachable 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 105 

character, sweet manners, sympathetic heart, philanthropic spirit 
.and unrivalled patriotism as well as for his towering genius, 
sound judgment and great self-sacrifice as the late lamented 
Mr. Gokhale. From personal experience I am in a position to 
say that to know him was to love and respect him. A great 
patriot, in the truest sense of the term, he dedicated his whole 
life and consecrated all his energies to the service of his country. 
The most distinctive characteristic of his distinguished career was 
the whole-hearted devotion and unsurpassed thoroughness with 
which he did whatever he undertook to do. In fact he did not 
"know how to do a thing half-heartedly or haphazardly. His keen 
sense of duty, his great zeal, extraordinary earnestness and un- 
bounded enthusiasm for his work called forth the admiration of 
friends and foes alike. The invaluable services rendered by him 
in various spheres which cannot be over-estimated, will be grate- 
'fully remembered by his countrymen and ineffaceably written in 
ithe history of modern India. A good and great life such as 
'Gokhale 's teaches an object lesson that is worth studying and 
;furnishes an example that is worthy of imitation, though difficult 
of emulation. One distinguishing feature of Gokhale *s public 
career, which deserves special mention here, was the spontaneous 
sympathy he had with the wants and aspirations of communities 
-other than his own and the ready support he extended to those 
of their members who were in need of it. He did his best to 
promote friendly feelings between Hindus and Musalmans upon 
whose combination and co-operation, he rightly thought, depends 
ithe advancement of the country. If his example in this and other 
arespects were followed by his countrymen, Gokhale would not 
Jiave lived in vain. 

M. Abdul Karim concluded his presidential speech 
as follows : 

"The fifth and sixth objects which your League has in view 
are to "create a feeling of unity and amity amongst the Musalmans 
and to maintain friendly relations with non-Moslems." It pains 
one to think that a feeling of unity and amity among the followers 
of an essentially democratic faith has yet to be created. But 



io6 



UFB OF A, KARIM 



this, unfortunately, is a regrettable fact which has to be faced 

As for unity, the annual, weekly, daily and almost hourly meet- 
ings of Musalmans in mosques and elsewhere are all intended to 
serve this purpose. These would be meaningless exhibitions if 
they could not produce the desired effect The reports published 
in the Muhammadi and other papers of the treatment of the 
Badias and other low class Musalmans, who are not permitted 
even to join their co-religionists of higher social status in prayers, 
clearly show how Islam is losing its hold on the Musalmans of 
Bengal. As regards the relation of Musalmans with their non- 
Muslim neighbours, the Quranic injunction leaves no room for 
doubt. Perhaps no other religion is as liberal as Islam as regards 
the relation of its followers with those of other religions. 
The political interests of the Hindus and Muslims of India are so 
identical that hearty co-operation is essential for the good of both 
the communities. I am glad this is being gradually recognised 
by the leading members of both the communities. " 

The next important political meeting over which 
Maulavi Abdul Karim presided was the annual session of 
the Bengal Presidency Muslim League held at Jessore in 
March, 1920. A quotation from his presidential speech has 
been given in the Chapter on Khilafat. He spoke at some 
length on the proposed "Reform Scheme". The following 
is a summary of what he said : 

The Reform Scheme. The most important political question 
at present before the public is that of reform in the administration 

of the country The proposed reforms fall far short of our 

requirements and still more so of our aspirations, and, therefore, 
the demand for a larger measure of nationalisation and democra- 
tisation in the administration is necessary. The proposed scheme 
does not go far enough, but as the first instalment of responsible 
government, I think, it deserves an honest trial. I wish the 
Central Government had a much stronger representative element 
in it than it is to have for the present. But I believe that with an 
elected majority in the legislative Assembly and the Council of 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS IO7 

State and with three Indians as Executive Councillors regrettable 
events like the shooting at Jallianwala Bagh and the passing of 
repressive measures like the Rowlat Act will soon be things of 
the past. The privilege of veto and the power of dismissing the 
ministers and taking over the transferred subjects into his own 
hands are no doubt deadly weapons in the Governor's armoury. 
But I think he would be a bold man indeed who would dare 
run the risk of wielding them frequently in his new surroundings. 
Taking these circumstances into consideration I am of opinion 
that though the reforms do not go to the desired length, and 
though constitutional agitation for further concessions should 
continue, the importance of the concessions already made should 
not be belittled 

* 

It augurs well for the success of the scheme that the Anglo- 
Indian community, though vehemently opposed to it in its initial 
stage, have at last accepted it as a settled fact and are prepared 
to extend the hand of fellowship and co-operation to the people 

of the country If the tension of feeling on account of 

the race prejudice and domineering attitude of the Anglo-Indian 
community ceases to exist, if they sympathise with the aspirations 
of the people and show their readiness to accept them as equal 
partners in the administration of the country, the prevailing 
atmosphere of mistrust and misapprehension will soon clear up 
and there will be mutual trust and confidence without which 
no efficient administration is possible. 

As regards political matters the Musalmans of India should 
be Indians first and Musalmans afterwards. They should heartily 
co-operate with the other communities in order to obtain political 
powers and privileges. The unwisdom of those who are against 
concerted action even in matters of common interest, cannot be 
condemned in too strong a language. Besides the interests 
common to all communities, there are matters which concern the 
different communities individually. After the common interests 
are secured, each community should vigorously exert itself to 
safeguard its special communal interests. Unity between two 
communities does not mean the effacement of the individuality 



IOS LIFE OF A. KARIM 

or the distinctive characteristics of one or the other community. 
To combine for securing common interests and at the same time 
to exert for safeguarding one's own interests is the rule of human 
society. Even in a family brothers fall out in trying to severally 
secure individual interests while they naturally combine and co- 
operate in gaining jointly identical interests from others 

It is essentially necessary that the Musalmans of Bengal 
should take all possible steps to establish their communal im- 
portance and to secure their communal rights commensurate with 
it. This cannot be attained unless there is an adequate and 
effective representation of the community on all the deliberative 

and administrative bodies If the conditions in India had 

been the same as those in England, if the people in this country 
had been divided merely into political parties like the I/iberals 
and the Unionists, but undivided in race, religion or language, 
if a community here had stood for mere political rivalries and not 
for more substantial interests, the question of communal elec- 
torates would not have arisen at all. That separate representation 
of communities, forming the population of the same country under 
the same government, is theoretically an evil cannot be denied. 
But in a country where there is so much diversity of race, reli- 
gion, language, manners and customs, it is practically a necessary 
and an unavoidable evil. Until the different communities are 
highly advanced in education and enlightenment and until there 
is a sufficient development of a spirit of common civic responsi- 
bility, communal representation is perhaps the safest arrangement 
by which adequate and effective enfranchisement of important 
communities, interested in the welfare of the country, can be 
secured. A common electorate at this stage of political develop- 
ment might lead to the practical disfranchisement of some weak 
communites. It would be superfluous to cite instances of the 
repeated failures, through sheer numerical inferiority, to get, in 
spite of vigorous efforts, some of the best qualified Muhammadan 
candidates elected at the University, Municipal, District Board and 
other elections. The Mussalmans being entirely at the mercy of 
their educationally, politically and numerically more powerful 
neighbours, naturally got swamped at the polling booths ...... 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS IOQ 

But mere numerical strength will not avail; unless the right 
men who can hold their own with the representatives of other 
communities, are returned to the Councils, the interests of the 
community cannot hut suffer. We want representatives who may, 
by their ability, energy, moral courage and social position, take an 
active and intelligent part in the deliberations of the bodies to 
which they may be elected. We do not want men who seek 
election merely for the sake of self-interest or self -aggrandisement, 
and who, for want of adequate education or a sufficient sense of 
duty and responsibility, prove mere figure-heads unable to make 
their presence felt by giving articulate expression to the opinions 
and ideas of those whom they may pose to represent. ... At 
this critical time the community requires men of unflinching 
moral courage and transparent honesty. . . . Hitherto power and 
patronage have been in the hands of a party that had no personal 
interest in matters affecting the different communities and they 
were generally speaking impartial in their dealings and decisions 
unless they erred for lack of required knowledge or for want of 
correct information or when the interests of the European com- 
munity clashed with those of the Indians. But when the Indians 
themselves will have to decide matters naturally every party will 
try to get the lion's share, and the weaker party will have to 
suffer. Sometime ago a gentleman, after a visit to the Writers* 
Buildings at Calcutta, is said to have remarked that it seemed 
to him as if it were a Hindu Zamindar's cutchery with some 
European managers, who had a few Muhammadan orderlies, and he 
shuddered to think of what will happen when the present 
managers would leave. I do not think there is reason to blame 
any one except the Mussalmans themselves for this state of things. 
It has all worked out according to the prevailing law of human 
society. I cannot say if the Mussalmans had the same advan- 
tages of wealth, education and influence, they would not have 
acted in a similar manner. What I am trying to impress upon 
you is that if you fail in future, as you have done in the past, 
to assert your rights properly, your position will be, when the 
administrative changes will come into operation, much worse than 
what is now. In the changed circumstances you simply cannot 



110 UFE OF A. KARIM 

stand still; either you must press forward or slide backwards. 
I would entreat you, with all the earnestness I can command, 
to realise the imperative necessity of selecting for this most 
responsible work only such able, earnest and self-sacrificing men 
as would rise above all personal and party feelings and would 
work whole-heartedly for the good of the community and the 
country. 

The most irresponsible manner in which things in this 
connection have been done in the past, indicates a political 
lethargy and indifference on the part of the community which 
cannot but be utterly suicidal to its interests. Those who even 
in engaging a common menial servant would make a hundred 
and one enquiries as to his character, honesty and capacity to do 
the work that would be entrusted to him, would not, when 
approached for their votes, care to put even one question regard- 
ing the fitness of the person they were being called upon to 
select for a work, which was the most responsible from a com- 
munal point of view. There was absolutely no policy or principle 
according to which selection was made. In these circumstances it 
would not be a matter of surprise if some of our best men fight 
shy of council elections. If you are anxious to avert the political 
extinction of the Mussalmans of Bengal, you must bestir yourselves 
and make the best possible arrangements- for getting the best 
men available to act as your representatives. If you want to 
benefit by the elective system you should see that those who 
seek the votes of the electors make their appeal to them on 
public grounds and that they, in their turn, give their votes in 
the interest of public good. You require a band of earnest and 
enthusiastic young men to go about all over the Presidency not 
to canvass for individual candidates but to educate the electorate, 
to rouse their political consciousness, to awaken their sense of 
political responsibility. This is no easy task. Steady, earnest 
and organised effort is necessary. Realising the stern reality of 
the doctrine of the survival of the fittest and remembering that 
it is entirely in your hands to make or mar the prospects of your 
community, you will, I hope, at once set about this most important 
and urgent work." 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS III 

The following is a summary of what Maulavi Abdul 
Karim said regarding the Calcutta University : 

The proposals made by the Sadler Commission for placing 
the Calcutta University on an efficient footing and for the establish- 
ment of a Teaching and Residential University at Dacca, are of 
a wide and far-reaching character. The Commission's diagnosis 
of the situation cannot be questioned, but the remedies proposed 
to be prescribed are of doubtful efficacy. I shall not be at all 
surprised if they kill rather than cure. Theoretically the Com- 
mission's recommendations are no doubt very valuable, but I am 
not certain that practically they will lead to anything very useful, 
as they have been made without due regard to the conditions of 
the province and the circumstances of its people. High and lofty 
ideals of education may be all very well for rich countries, but 
they will not do for countries where many of the parents have to 
stint themselves even of the necessaries of life in order to 
educate their children. The heavy financial" burden which the 
proposed changes will involve will place University education 
beyond the reach of many of the middle class people. In the 
present state of educational development it is undesirable to sacri- 
fice, to any great extent, surface for depth, and to spend available 
funds more on consolidation than on expansion. Some education 
certainly cannot be worse than no education. By checking the 
wide diffusion of education the normal course of the intellectual, 
social and political evolution of the people will be crippled and 
curtailed. Few private colleges are likely to survive long if the 
Intermediate classes are cut away and the high standards recom- 
mended by the Commission are insisted upon. Besides, it will 
be difficult for the Government to provide an additional annual 
outlay of sixty-five lakhs when so much money will have to be 
found for the working of the Reform Scheme. In these circum- 
stances it would be well to treat some of the recommendations for 
setting up lofty standards of perfection as an ideal to be gradually 
attained by instalments according as means are available. 

As for the Dacca University, which was originally intended 
to serve as B sop to the Mussalmans of Eastern Bengal for the 



112 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

extinction of the Province in which they greatly preponderated! 
and consequently enjoyed special facilities for education, those 
who are well-acquainted with the poverty of the people cannot 
be altogether deluded by the attractive ideals of a residential' 
university. The number of Muhammadan students who are in 
a position to avail themselves of the costly education provided in 
a residential university, is not likely to be very large for the 
present. The crying need of the country being extensive educa- 
tion, the ideal arrangement would have been the establishment 
of a teaching and federal University like that of Calcutta, and! 
best suited for the diffusion of knowledge over a wide area with 
a large population. I think it would be superfluous to go into 
details of the scheme at this stage. I had occasion to express my 
views in my evidence before the Commission. One thing about 
which I wrote rather strongly in my memorandum was the need 
of representation of the community on the Governing bodies of 
the Universities. I pointed out how the interests of the Mussal- 
mans in the Calcutta University had grievously suffered for want 
of adequate and effective representation, there being only 7 
Mussalmans out of 110 Fellows, not one of them being a member 
of the Syndicate. Since the introduction of the elective system 
in the Calcutta University not a single Muhammadan has ever 
been returned, although competent candidates were in the field. 
As a result of the dominating influence of one particular com- 
munity there was not a single Muhammadan out of 70 Lecturers; 
in the L,aw College, not a single Muhammadan (2 in Persian and 
Arabic excepted) out of a large number of University lecturers, 
not a single Muhammadan out of a large number of clerks im 
the offices of the University and only 9 Muhammadans out of 851 
examiners (the examiners in Arabic, Persian and Urdu excepted) 
appointed for the different University examinations held during 
the previous year. I urged that this deplorable state of things 
called for early remedy. Besides, I pointed out that no scheme 
of reconstruction, as in the case of the Calcutta University, or 
of construction, as in the case of the Dacca University, could 
be beneficial to all classes of people for whom the tlniversity 
was intended unless their special wants and requirements, their 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 113 

peculiar defects and disabilities, their conflicting ideals and 
interests were taken into due consideration." 

The third important political meeting over which 
Maulavi Abdul Karim presided was the fifth session of the 
Surma Valley Conference held at Sylhet in September, 
1920. It was very largely attended by delegates from 
different parts of Sylhet and some Sylhet gentlemen resid- 
ing in Calcutta, such as the late Mr. Bepin Chunder Pal 
and Dr. Sundari Mohan Das. It was wsited by the then 
Chief Commissioner of Assam, the late Sir Beatson Bell, 
and the Deputy Commissioner of Sylhet, Mr. Dawson. 
M. Abdul Karim began his presidential speech by a 
reference to the death of the late Mr. Tilak. He said: 

"Before passing on to the subjects proposed to be discussed 
at this conference I should mention the irreparable loss the 
country has sustained by the death of Lokmanya Tilak, one of 
the three selfless, self-denying and self-sacrificing Indian patriots 
of the time. The brilliance and versatility of his intellect, the 
purity and simplicity of his private life, his irreproachable 
character, inexhaustible energy, indomitable courage, and, above 
all, his fearless independence and genuine love of country, called 
forth the admiration of friend and foe alike. A great patriot as 
he was, he dedicated his life, and consecrated his energies and 
abilities to the service of the motherland. Perhaps no other man 
of our time suffered so much and so ungrudgingly for his country 
as did the late Mr. Tilak.- In fact his was a life of sufferings 
and sacrifices. For about a quarter of a century, since 1897, he 
was persecuted with a relentlessness which raised him to a 
martyr, but he did not for a moment swerve an inch from what 
he considered to be the path of duty and rectitude. He was 
regarded as the guide, friend and philosopher of all classes of 
people, and he enjoyed, for over a quarter of a century, an 
amount of popularity which perhaps it has not been the lot of 
any other Indian of his time to enjoy. His life-long services in 
the national cause, rendered in a spirit of exemplary self-sacrifice 
8 



114 klFE OF A 

and at much personal suffering, will be, I need scarcely say, 
gratefully remembered by his countrymen. A life such as Tilak's 
is an inspiring object-lesson which is well worth studying, and 
it furnishes an example that is worthy of imitation, though 
difficult of emulation. I hope and trust our young men would 
follow in the footsteps of this great man, and there would arise 
scores of Tilaks to serve the country." 

M. Abdul Karim then spoke on Hindu-Muslim 

unity : 

"The first item in any programme of economic and political 
reconstruction of India," he said, ''must be based on unity among 
the important communities inhabiting this country. Omit it and 
you do away with all hopes of India's future. The truth of the 
adage 'united we stand and divided we fall* has nowhere been so 
well illustrated as in this unfortunate country. From time 
immemorial, as a reference to history will show, disunion and 
discord have been the cause of most of its misfortunes. If India 
could have presented a united front to its invaders, its history 
would have been altogether different from what it is. The political 
revival of any particular community in India, apart from that 
of others, is an idle dream. The recognition of the political 
status of the people unless demanded by them in a body is an 
utter impossibility. It is a matter of much satisfaction to me 
that this is not a conference of any particular section of the 
people; it is a conference consisting of the representatives of 
both the important communities in the district. The fact that 
social cordiality and solidarity have never been much disturbed 
in this district and the exchange of social amenities between 
Hindus and Musalmans has all along been of common occurrence 
is a matter for much congratulation, indicating as it does the good 
sense of the people. 

To my mind it would be impossible to achieve the economic 
and political salvation of India unless and until all the important 
communities closely combine and heartily co-operate fbr the 
common good of the motherland. It is indeed a happy sign of 
the times that Hindus and Mussalmans have realised tfie impera- 
tive necessity of peace and goodwill among themselves, and their 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 115 

leaders are exerting their best to bring about the wished-for 
unity. The regrettable incidents in the Punjab, and the troubles 
in connection with the Khilafat, have brought the two commu- 
nities much closer than they had ever been before. Who ever 
thought that Hindus would show such genuine enthusiasm in 
welcoming Mussalman leaders, and Mussalmans would show the 
same feelings in the reception of Hindu leaders as we have 
lately witnessed ? This, I need scarcely say, marks a new epoch in 
the public life of the people and augurs a bright future for the 
country. There is already an All-India movement for working 
up a solid reunion of Hindus and Mussalmans upon a common 
political platform. The unity of the two great communities is 
indeed the greatest asset to the political future of India. It should 
IDC adopted by all as the first article of political creed, and not 
-as a mere matter of political expediency. Let us always bear in 
mind that it is only by mutual trust and mutual co-operation 
between the Hindus and Mussalmans that the destiny of India 
can be achieved, and let there be a real unity of hearts as well 
as of heads, a unity bred of mutual love and trust, and free from 
all traces of suspicion and distrust. 

Maulavi Abdul Karim devoted a considerable portion 
of his speech to the question of "Transfer of Sylhet to 
Bengal' ' which was at that time being keenly discussed. 
When the late Mr. Montagu came to Calcutta, Maulavi 
Abdul Karim waited upon him at the Government House 
with a deputation from Sylhet, consisting of the late Mr. 
Kamini Kumar Chanda, the late Mr. Radhabinode Das, 
the late Mr. Harendra Chandra Sinha, the late Mr. Nagen- 
<dranath Chaudhury and others. The Assam deputation, 
led by the late Mr. Ghanasham Barua, was also there at 
the time and opposed Sylhet's transfer. The following is 
a summary of what Maulavi Abdul Karim said on this 
subject: 

'.'One of the provincial questions which has been exercising 
the minds of 'most of the people of Sylhet is the re-union of their 



Il6 UFE OF A. KARIM 

district with Bengal. My views regarding this question are 
perhaps too well-known to need detailed discussion. I think I 
am too old and too near the grave to be swayed by any motive 
other than the good of my country in discussing this or any 
other matter. If I had not been thoroughly convinced that it 
would be the best interests of the people of my district to be 
under the same administration as their kith and kin in Bengal, 
certainly I would not have taken so prominent a part, as I took, 
in the deputation that waited upon the Right Honourable the 
Secretary of State and His Excellency the Viceroy with a view 
to urge the desirability of Sylhet 's re-union with Bengal. From 
time immemorial Sylhet was politically, as it has always been 
geographically, a part and parcel of Bengal. During the 
Muhammadan rule it was included in the Subah of Bengal and 
shared the fiscal system of Todarmal 

Various are the ways in which the people of Sylhet have 
suffered on account of their separation from the advanced Presi- 
dency of Bengal. In fact the object with which Sylhet was 
transferred to Assam involved a great injustice to the people of 
this district, who were called upon to contribute a disproportionate 
share of the expenditure of a poor Province. That the people' 
of Sylhet did not acquiesce in such an administrative arrange- 
ment is evident from the fact that they strongly protested 
against it in a memorial dated the 10th August, 1874. Had public 
opinion been as strong then as it is now, when many a settled 
fact has to be unsettled in deference to it, the grievances of the 
people of Sylhet would have been redressed without much delay. 
Thirty years in a backward Province stunted the public life 
of Sylhet and checked the growth of progressive political ideas 
and ideals. It was with a sigh of relief that the people of Sylhet 
again found themselves in the free atmosphere of a liberally- 
administered Province when, in 1905, the Province of Eastern 
Bengal and Assam was formed. But fate was against them ; in 
less than a decade they were again placed under the Assam 
administration, and were thus deprived of some of the rights 
and privileges they enjoyed in Bengal. On the dissolution of 
the Province of Eastern Bengal and Assam, the people of Sylhet 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 117 

submitted a memorial to His Excellency the Viceroy, pointing 
out that in accordance with the policy of uniting the Bengali- 
speaking districts into one consolidated unit, formulated by the 
Government of India Despatch, Sylhet should have been retained 
in Bengal, to which it belongs geographically, ethnologically and 
linguistically, It was further pointed out that Sylhet has the 
same judicial and revenue systems as Bengal, that its recognised 
court language is Bengali, which is spoken by more than 90 per 
cent of its inhabitants, that the Bengali-speaking population of 
Sylhet is nearly as large as that of the neighbouring districts 
of Tippera and Mymensingh, that the social relations of both 
respectable Hindus and Musalmans of Sylhet are with their 
neighbours in the districts of Bengal, and not with the people 
of Assam, that there is the closest intellectual, moral and spiritual 
kinship between Sylhet and the rest of Bengal, and that the 
affinities of a common religion, language and literature and 
common intellectual aspirations form an indissoluble bond of 
union between the people of Sylhet and their countrymen in 
Bengal. . . . The Musalmans have a particular reason to desire 
-this re-union. They are in a minority in Assam whereas they 
will be in a majority in Bengal. This will be a very great 
.advantage to them as in future the majority will have in their 
.hands the control of affairs in the country. 

During the last two decades things have entirely changed; 
education has made rapid strides in Assam and the people have 
awakened to a sense of their communal importance and privileges. 
A cry has already been raised that Assam is for the Assamese, 
-and the people of Sylhet are being gradually elbowed out of the 
Assam Services. In Assam they are disowned as outsiders and 
when they go to Bengal they are disowned as Assamese. Where 
then are they to go? There is no prospect of the Surma Valley 
ever being a self-contained unit of administration with every- 
thing necessary for the protection and progress of the people. 
In these circumstances is it at all unreasonable on the part of 
the people of Sylhet to agitate for getting such a deplorable 
state of 'things remedied? Should Sylhet continue to minister to 
ihe wants of Assam while her inhabitants are to be deprived 



Il8 UFB OF A. KARIM 

of the valued rights and privileges their neighbours in Bengal 
are to enjoy under the Reform Scheme ? All these facts have 
to be taken into serious consideration in deciding the fate of 
Sylhet." 

Maulavi Abdul Karim then attended two annual 
sessions of the All-India Muslim League held at Lucknow,, 
one under the presidency of the late Sir Syed AH Imam 
and the other under the presidency of the late Nawab Sir 
Zulfiquar Ali. He took an active part in the proceedings 
of both of these conferences. 

When the twentieth annual session of the All-India 
Muslim League was held at Calcutta in December, 1928, 
Maulavi Abdul Karim was elected Chairman of the recep- 
tion committee. He delivered a long speech which was 
appreciated by the President of the conference, the late 
Raja Saheb of Mahmudabad, by Mr. Jinnah, who opened 
the proceedings and by the large audience, consisting of 
delegates from all parts of India. The whole speech was 
published in a supplement by the Amrita Bazar Patrika. 
The following is a summary of the important portions of 
the speech : 

"I need hardly say that the Musalmans of Bengal are grateful 
to Muslim India for honouring their province by selecting it as 
the venue of the present epoch-making session of the premier 
political organisation of the community in India. Standing at 
the parting of ways we must at this session make deliberate, 
courageous and far-reaching decisions regarding the future con- 
stitution and governance of India, and of Muslim status and' 
share in the same. It was in the fitness of things also that on 
such a critical occasion which will, in all probability, prove a 
landmark in the history of modern India, all the most important 
and representative political and other associations of different 
shades of opinions and persuasions should have met' together 
in this historic city, which may be regarded as the fountain-head 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 119 

of administrative evolution, as it has largely been the birth- 
place of political free-thinking and of national aspirations and 
strivings in India. 

Upon the results of your deliberations, gentlemen, depends 
the future of Muslim India and to a large extent the destiny 
of Mother India itself. It is extremely to be regretted, therefore, 
that some forces are at work to divide the political strength 
of the Musalmans of India at a time when the vital interests 
both of the community and the country require that there should 
be solid unanimity. I need hardly say that if after due delibera- 
tions by all parties concerned, the legitimate demands of the 
community are not unitedly, clearly and definitely put forward, 
the Muslim cause will be greatly jeopardised. I am afraid people 
have been fighting over a shadow before getting the substance. 
Until the required political rights are actually secured, the 
question of their division cannot arise. Franchise, electorate, 
representation, nay even services and other kindred questions, 
are to be considered only in reference to responsible self-govern- 
ment. They have no value or significance of their own until 
this is attained. The primary and joint aim of all parties for 
the present should, therefore, be the attainment of the govern- 
ment of the people by the people and for the people. When 
this is secured, I do not think there would be insurmountable 
difficulties regarding the adjustment of the claims of different 
communities. Failure to come to a mutual understanding would 
only prove our incapacity to rule. One outstanding fact that 
should never be lost sight of is that unless a united demand by 
all parties is vigorously pushed forward, it would be futile to 
talk of self-government. All our righteous and justifiable zeal 
to protect minority or special interests should on no account 
blind us to this one vital and essential fact and factor in India's 
fight for freedom. 

Before passing on to the subjects that may have to be 
discussed at this session of the League, I must refer to the 
irreparable loss which the community and the country have 
sustained by the d^eath of Mr. Syed Ameer All, one of the most 
illustrious sons of modern India. He might be called the father 



120 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

of Muslim political organisation in Bengal. After his return 
from England early in the eighties of the last century, he 
founded the first Muslim political association in this province, 
which for a long time did much useful work in furthering the 
cause of the community. After his retirement to England he 
was intimately connected with the I/ondon branch of the Muslim 
League. 

Modern Bengal has not produced another Muslim of Ameer 
Ali's calibre and character. Endowed with exceptional qualities 
of head and heart, he soon made his mark in his own sphere 
of activity; and by dint of ability and industry he rose to some 
of the highest offices to which, under the present circumstances, 
a native of India could aspire. He did all that he could for 
the uplift of his countrymen. Although away from India for 
many years, there was hardly any question of public importance 
affecting the interests of the land of his birth in which he did 
not take a keen and active interest. 

The invaluable services that Ameer AH rendered to the 
cause of Islam and the Muslims are perhaps too well-known to 
need recapitulation. By his masterly works, such as the History 
of the Saracens and the Spirit of Islam, which gained him 
undying fame and would outlive the ravages of time, he impressed 
upon the world the great beauties of Islam and the unparalleled 
progressive religious fervour with which the Prophet of Arabia 
inspired his followers. Besides, he successfully refuted the un- 
founded charges brought against Islam by its unscrupulous 
calumniators. He took a very prominent part in the Red 
Crescent Societies that were founded for the relief of sufferers 
at the time of the Balkan and other wars. 

The inspiring lesson which such a life teaches should not be 
lost. The younger generation would do well to carry on the 
noble work which he began the work of disinterested service 
to Islam and its followers. 

It is indeed India's misfortune that at this critical juncture 
in her history, when her political horizon is so much overcast 
with ominous clouds, her great sons are passing away 'one after 
another. We have to mourn also the loss of a prince among 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 121 

men, known as the "Lion of the Punjab/' whose whole life 
was one of uninterrupted struggle for freedom and of fearless, 
if overzealous, fight for moral and spiritual reforms. The tragic 
circumstances connected with his sudden and premature death 
have cast a deep gloom all over the country and have roused 
great indignation among the people. There is hardly any one 
in the Punjab, or perhaps even in the whole of India, who can 
fill Lala La j pat Rai's place. Perhaps no other man of our time, 
with the exception of Lokamanya Tilak, suffered so much and so 
ungrudingly for the sake of the motherland, as did this undaunted 
patriot. His inexhaustible energy, indomitable courage, fearless 
independence and unfailing spirit of service and self-sacrifice 
call forth the admiration of friends and foes alike. The life- 
long services which he rendered to the national cause at much 
personal sacrifice, will ever be gratefully remembered through- 
out the land. The death of such a man at such a time is 
nothing short of a calamity for the country. It is hoped that 
his noble example would be imitated and emulated by his 
countrymen. 

I should not close this obituary notice without referring to 
the passing away, since we met last, of another illustrious son 
of India, who excelled all others in his particular sphere of 
activity. Lord Sinha was pre-eminently a self-made man. By 
sheer dint of his extraordinary abilities and whole-hearted devo- 
tion to duty he rose to such high offices as Indians could not 
aspire to under the British rule. A sober politician as he was, 
he believed that the political salvation of the country could 
be achieved by evolution rather than by revolution and he 
deprecated the impetuous action of impatient idealists. The 
country could ill spare him at a time when its old constitution 
is in the melting-pot and counsel of representatives of various 
shades of opinion has to be requisitioned in forming a new one. 

Aspirations of India's Intelligentsia. The demand for political 
rights by the intelligentsia of India is neither unnatural nor 
unreasonable. In an age when self-rule and self-determination 
have been the order of the day and when even a semi-civilised 
people like the Phillipinos, having hardly any history and tradi- 



122 UFE OF A. KARIM 

tion worth the name, have been clamouring for self-government, 
it is but natural that the descendants of two highly civilised 
races whose religion, philosophy, literature and jurisprudence 
extorted the unstinted admiration of the world, should be anxious 
for effective participation in the administration of their own 
country. Besides, the awakening of political consciousness in 
India is an inevitable consequence of Western education. This 
was not unanticipated by those who had a hand in its introduc- 
tion. Macaulay, who was one of the greatest advocates of 
English education in India, wrote in the year 1833, "It may be 
that the public mind in India may expand under our system till 
it has outgrown that system, that by good government we may 
educate our subjects into a capacity for better government, that 
by having been instructed in European knowledge, they may in 
some future age demand European institutions. Whether such 
a day will ever come I know not. But never will I attempt to- 
avert or retard it. Whenever it comes it will be the proudest 
day in English history. To have found a great people sunk in 
the lowest depths of slavery and superstition, to have so ruled 
them as to have made them desirous and capable of all the 
privileges of citizens, would indeed be a title to glory all our 
own." On another occasion, in a moment of inspiration, 
Macaulay is reported to have said, "We shall never consent to- 
stupefy and paralyse a great people whom God has committed 
to our charge, for the wretched purpose of rendering them 
more amenable to our control." 

These are noble and statesmanlike sentiments worthy of 
the British name and character. Does it not indicate bankruptcy 
of British statesmanship that there should be vigorous opposition 
by the present wiser descendants of those far-sighted statesmen 
when Indians, instructed in European knowledge, are demanding 
European institutions, and full rights of British citizenship and 
self-government? It is hoped that the unscrupulous efforts for 
"averting or retarding" the reasonable demand for responsible 
self-government would prove utterly futile. 

English education was intended to create and preserve 
loyalty and security for Britain. That this object was attained is 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 123 

borne out by the Government of India. In a Despatch dated so 
late as 8th. June, 1880 it was stated "To the minds of at least 
the educated among the people of India and their number is 
rapidly increasing any idea of the suberversion of British power 
is abhorrent." I believe the loyalty and security procured through 
English education would have been retained but for the short- 
sighted policy of the narrow-minded British statesmen of the 
present day like Lord Birkenhead. Perhaps it is not yet too late 
to undo the mischief committed by the pursuit of such a blunder- 
ing policy. That the efforts to stem the natural tide of progress 
due to the spread of western education would be futile was pro- 
phetically foreshadowed by several far-sighted British statesmen. 
John Bright wrote, "There are thousands of persons in India 
competent to take any position in which the Government may 

choose to advance them you would have begun to unite the 

Government with the governed ; and unless you do that, no 
Government will be safe, and any hurricane may overturn it or 
throw it into confusion." Sir John Malcolm, a Governor of 
Bombay, wrote, "If these plans of spreading instruction are not 
associated with the creation of duties that will employ the minds 
which we enlighten, we shall only prepare elements that will 
hasten the destruction of our Empire. The moral evil to us does 
not thus stand alone. It carries with it its nemesis the seeds 
of the destruction of the Empire." Lord Hartington, afterwards 
Duke of Devonshire, wrote. "It is not wise to educate the people 
of India, to introduce among them your civilisation and progress 
and your literature, and at the same time to tell them they 
should never have any chance of taking any part or share in 
the administration of the affairs of their country, except by their 
getting rid in the first instance of their European rulers." Sir 
William Hunter, a Bengal Civilian and a Vice-Chancellor of the 
Calcutta University, wrote, "I do not believe that a people 
numbering one-sixth of the inhabitants of the globe, and whose 
aspirations have been nourished from their earliest youth on the 
strong food of English liberty, can be permanently denied a 
voice in the government of their country Forty years here- 
after we should have an Indian Ireland multiplied fifty-fold on 



I 24 UFE OF A. KARIM 

our hand." I^ord Cromer, once a member of the Viceroy's 
Council, wrote, "It is only what ought to be expected by every 
thoughtful man that after fifty years of free press and thirty 
years of expanding education, with European ideas flowing into 
the country on every side, and old indigenous customs, habits 
and prejudices breaking down, changes should be taking place 
in the thoughts, desires and the aims of the intelligent and 
educated men of the country which no wise and cautious Govern- 
ment can afford to disregard, and to which they must gradually 
adapt their system of administration if they do not wish to see 
it shattered by forces which they have themselves called into 
being but which they have failed to guide and control. 1 ' 

There would have been no ground for complaint if there 
prevailed now the British instinct and principle which induced 
the politicians of those days to give expression to the views 
quoted above. It is a misfortune both for India and England that 
the British public in their policy towards India should be guided 
not by the broad-minded and far-sighted statesmen, I have 
quoted, most of whom had as intimate a knowledge of India as 
any living Britisher, but by Sydenhams, O'Dwyers and re- 
actionaries of their type. Is it too much to hope that the British 
people will realise their responsibility and avert, before it is 
-too late, the dire consequences, so outspokenly forecasted, by 
adopting a generous policy in their treatment of India? Will 
they raise the people of India to the position of the Self-Governing 
Colonies, making the Empire a great Federation of equal partners, 
or will they drive them, in utter despair of British good sense 
and good faith, to set themselves to work to find means, active 
or passive, open or secret, to "get rid of their European rulers", 
as indicated by Lord Hartington ? The future of India and 
perhaps also of the British Empire depends on the answers to 
these queries. 

Economic Distress of the Masses. "If change in the system 
of government is necessary for the satisfaction of the legitimate 
aspirations of the intelligentsia, it is still more necessary for the 
relief of the economic distress which the masses have been 
suffering from. The East India Company which was formed for 



PRESIDENT OP ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 125 

the purposes of trade alone, quietly and honestly carried on 
their business during the Musalman rule in India. But when 
on the disruption of the Mughal Empire, the English merchants 
acquired territorial possessions, greed became their one passion. 
All that they were anxious for was monopoly of trade and 
exercise of political power. Unlike their predecessors, who 
settled in the country and strove to better its condition, the 
East India Company decided to rule India from England and to 
exploit its resources for the benefit of their own country. While 
the Musalmans got domiciled in India, they spent in this country 
the revenue they raised here and utilised the services of capable 
Hindus, some of whom were appointed to the highest administra- 
tive posts, both civil and military, but the English politico-com- 
mercial adventurers preferred to remain foreigners, to spend their 
income in their own land and to administer the country by their 
own men. Thus was India fleeced in order to enrich England. 
Contemporary English literature, as well as the Despatches and 
Orders of the Court of Directors themselves, bear ample and 
unimpeachable testimony to the iniquities and exploitations of 
early British rule in India. It was not, therefore, a fact that 
the British Indian Empire was founded for conferring the bless- 
ings of civilisation on the people of India by benevolent autocrats 
who claimed to be the trustees of the masses. 

In pursuance of their policy of exploitation some of the 
officers did not scruple to extort money from the people by means 
fair or foul. There was thus a good deal of oppression at times. 
The British Parliament, however, condemned the misdeeds of 
the unscrupulous officers and took steps to check them whenever 
these were brought to their notice. But when, after the Sepoy 
Mutiny, India passed from the Company to the Crown, the old 
commercial spirit and economic exploitation policy continued, 
even though the personal violence and injustice and flagrant 
expropriations of the East India Company's Nabobs were largely 
stopped. The result was the gradual impoverishment of the 
people, in spite of the development of some of the natural 
resources 'of the country. Millions of the Indian masses, whose 
ancestors had plenty to eat, are now unable to provide themselves 



126 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

with two meals a day. This is the result of foreign rule. Truly 
did Macaulay say, "Of all forms of tyranny the worst is that of a 
nation over a nation, the heaviest of all yokes is the yoke of 
the stranger." 

After carefully examining an elaborate record of a nine years' 
(1807 to 1816) survey and enquiry into the conditions of the 
people of some districts, Mr. Montgomery Martin observed, "It 
is impossible to avoid marking two facts as peculiarly striking 
first, the richness of the country; and second, the poverty of its 
inhabitants." Mr. Frederick John Shore wrote in 1837, "The 
halcyon days of India are over; she has been drained of a large 
proportion of the wealth she once possesssed, and her energies 
have been cramped by a sordid system of misrule to which the 
interests of millions have been sacrificed for the benefit of the 
few . . . The grinding extortion of the British Government has 
effected the impoverishment of the country and people to an 
extent unparalleled. The British Government has been practi- 
cally one of the most extortionate and oppressive that ever 
existed in India." 

Mr. Saville Marriot, a Commissioner of Revenue in 1836 and 
afterwards a Member of the Bombay Governor's Council, writes 
in a letter to Sir R. Grant : "You will readily conceive that 
my opinions are the result rather of practical experience than 
deduction drawn from scientific views ... If it is a startling 
but too notorious fact that though loaded with a vastly greater 
absolute amount of taxation and harassed by various severe acts 
of tyranny and oppression, yet the country was in a state of 
prosperity under the native rule when compared with that into 
which it has fallen under the avowedly mild sway of British 
administration." Mr. Hyndman attributes "the hideous im- 
poverishment to the drain which has now risen to 30,000,000 
annually from India to England", and he quotes Mr. Thorburn, 
a high Indian official, who paid, "The system had reduced 
70,000,000 human beings, for whom we are responsible, to such 
a condition of hopeless penury that no reform could' do them 
any good/ 1 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 127 

Sir George Wingate, the author of the Bombay Land Survey 
System, explained the nature of the drain as follows : "Taxes 
spent in the country from which they are raised are totally 
different in their effect from taxes raised in one country and 
spent in another. In the former case, taxes collected from the 
population are again returned to the industrious classes. But the 
<:ase is wholly different when the taxes are not spent in the 
country from which they are raised. They constitute loss and 
extinction of the whole amount withdrawn from the taxed country. 
Such is the nature of the tribute we have so long extracted from 
India." Lord Mayo said, "I have only one object in all I do. 
I believe we have not done our duty to the people of the land. 
Millions have been spent on the conquering race which might 
have been spent in enriching and elevating the children of the 
soil." Lord Curzon truly diagnosed the evil when he said in his 
characteristic style, "There was no spectacle which found less 
favour in my eyes than that of a cluster of Europeans settling 
down upon a Native State and sucking from it the moisture 
which ought to give sustenance to its own people." This, in 
brief, is the economic history of British rule in India, as vouched 
for by British chroniclers, ancient and modern. 

Comments on the above quotations would be quite super- 
fluous. The impoverishment of the people has led to the spread 
of distress and discontent all over the country. Unless and until 
both the economic and political causes of this regrettable state 
of things are removed, there can be no peace and prosperity in 
the land. The bulk of the people all over India have all along 
lived in villages. There was a time when each village was a 
self-contained little state, a republic in miniature. The villagers 
themselves managed almost all their affairs and themselves pro- 
duced almost all they required. They had enough of light and 
air in the open country and a sufficient quantity of food and 
clothing for their use. They not only produced raw materials, 
but also turned them into articles for everyday use. Thus they 
not only grew their own paddy and vegetables but also their 
own cotton, which was converted into yarn by means of the 
.charka, and then into cloth by the weavers. They stored what 



J28 LIFE; OF A. KARIM 

they produced for the use of the village and did not export it to 
other countries. The result was that they were almost unaffected: 
by any abnormal state of things prevailing elsewhere by a war 
in Europe or a strike in Manchester. Alas! those good old 
days are gone; the villages have much declined and a large 
number of villagers have migrated to the towns, where they find 
employment. Thus modern industrialism has created hordes of 
homeless and landless labourers and brought about the physical, 
moral and material degeneration of the people. Besides, the 
standard of living is continually rising, making the luxuries of 
one generation the necessaries of the next. The wants of the 
people have thus immensely increased while the means to meet 
them have not increased in the same proportion. Consequently 
the condition of the people is gradually getting worse, and this- 
is leading to the increase of crime and discontent in the country. 

In no other country are the people so greatly dependent on 
agriculture as in ours, and yet in no other country are the 
people so much lacking in agricultural education as in this. The 
tillers of land, who form an overwhelming majority of the people,, 
still follow the antediluvian methods of cultivation and are unable, 
to make the soil yield as much as it is really capable of yielding. 
The result has been that millions have not got enough to eat 
all the year round, and in times of drought and famine thousands 
die of starvation and disease. It is said that the cultivators now 
get higher prices for their products. But this gives them little 
advantage as they have to meet the higher wages of field 
labourers and the dearer rates of the necessaries of life. The 
pressure might not have been so heavy if they had stored their 
savings, like their ancestors, in kind instead of in cash. The 
railway and other facilities for conveyance lead to the offer of 
attractive prices for their products and they cannot resist the 
temptation of selling them. But far from gaining any advantage 
they ultimately lose by such a bargain. Having ready cash instead 
of a store of grain, they spend it upon festivities and superfluities, 
a strange taste for which has been disseminated among them by 
various agencies of western civilisation. The temptation lies in- 
the attractiveness and cheapness of the articles. The consequence 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 

is that when famine stares them in the face they have no money 
and little food to fall back upon. 

The influx of foreign imports has brought about the deca- 
dence of our indigenous industries and has seriously affected the 
artisans. Imported cotton and woollen fabrics have thus 
practically killed our old indigenous cotton and woollen manu- 
factures. The industrial concerns established in the country, 
mostly by foreigners, have given relief only to an insignificant 
fraction of the people. If the wages have been raised the prices 
of food grains and other necessaries of life have increased in a 
much higher proportion. Consequently the labourers in spite of 
increased income have a much smaller margin of profit and 
saving than they had before. While the people are thus becoming 
poorer, their artificial necessaries are growing with the importation 
of foreign articles into the country, without any corresponding 
inflow of wealth by exportation of India's once famous muslins, 
silks, shawls and cutlery, all of which industries have been 
deliberately neglected or put down. 

Industrial expansion with foreign capital and under foreign 
management cannot benefit the people to any appreciable extent. 
National poverty can be removed only by the increase of national 
wealth. Wealth increases in a country when its people derive 
profit from their own business concerns and not by the wages of 
labourers. The profits of tea, jute and other profitable concerns 
in the country which have been financed by foreign capital, go to 
foreign lands and do not add to the economic staying-power of 
the people. Thus the economic potentialities of the country are 
being drained by foreigners, who are ever on the look-out for 
exploiting the raw materials and cheap labour in India. It is 
high time that the gravity of the situation should be realised 
and steps should be taken to avert the denudation of the country 
of its wealth. Unless the indigenous industries are resuscitated 
and the development of the industrial resources of the country is 
undertaken by the people into their own hands and India is 
made industrially self-contained as far as possible, there can be 
no hope of its economic salvation. 

9 



130 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

Various are the ways in which the people have suffered by 
the break-up of the village organisation and the abandonment 
of the simple methods of doing things. In the good old days 
the villages were independent centres of self-government. The 
people who had a sense of self-reliance and self-respect, them- 
selves managed their own affairs relating to administration of 
justice ancl arrangements for education, sanitation, public works 
etc., in a way well-suited to their requirements. The administra- 
tive functions were vested in a council of elders, usually five 
in number, and, therefore, called a Panchayet. There was no 
formal election with the concomitant evils of the electioneering 
campaigns of modern times. Men with force of character were 
looked upon as leaders and they tried the criminal cases, arbitrated 
in civil suits and managed municipal matters. The Panchayet 
tried cases in a simple and a summary way. While in a law- 
court one can hardly avoid telling some sort of a lie, in a Pan- 
chayet lying was almost impossible as the truth was sure to be 
out sooner or later. It was much easier for the Panchayet to 
get at the truth and decide a case in a way that might have 
commanded public approval than it is for a Magistrate or a 
Judge sitting in a formal law-court. Thus, while the Panchayet 
tended to diminish crime, the ordinary law-court of the present 
day tends to increase it. One of the causes of discontent among 
the people, specially among the masses, is the hardship caused by 
the cost and delay in getting justice and by the operation of some 
of the civil and criminal laws. The old summary method of 
administering justice without unnecessary delay and without 
realisation of fees by law-courts and by legal advisers was much 
more popular. The law-courts of the present time have come 
to be regarded as something like shops where justice is sold 
through their brokers, the lawyers; and where, as a rule, only he 
can be successful who is in a position to spend sufficient money 
in paying lawyers and bribing witnesses. 

Reform Schemes. The desirability of associating the people 
with the administration of the country must have been realised 
long ago. But the half-hearted measures grudgingly adopted for 
the purpose fell far short of the requirements and aspirations of 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 131 

the people, specially so as each instalment was given after it was 
long overdue. Hardly anything worth mentioning was done till 
I,ord Morley, as Secretary of State for India, enlarged the legis- 
lative Councils on an elective basis. This did not satisfy the 
politically-minded people who began agitating for more substan- 
tial rights. When the great European war was raging, it was 
thought advisable to conciliate these people. So the then Secre- 
tary of State for India, the late Mr. Montague, formulated a 
scheme of administration which has been in operation for about 
eight years. One section of the people welcomed it as an 
appreciable improvement on the existing state of things, while 
another section deprecated it as inadequate and unsatisfactory 
and, therefore, unacceptable. The latter thought that the Reforms 
were hedged in with such restrictions and reservations as to be 
practically futile. The system of dyarchy, though not altogether 
unworkable, has practically proved to be so on account of in- 
sufficient funds provided for the transferred departments and 
the domineering attitude of Government Members on one side 
and the subserviency of nominated Ministers and Members on 
the other. Besides, the whole administration has become too 
top-heavy to run smoothly. In these circumstances it is but 
natural that there should be agitation for radical change in the 
system of government. 

Simon Commission.. ... it should be unmistakably realised 
that the British policy in India is definitely committed to the 
progressive realisation of responsible government, and the periodi- 
cal Commissions are merely to determine the extent and nature 
of each further instalment of such reforms and of India's advance 
towards Swaraj which, as declared by His Imperial Majesty and 
reiterated by his Ministers, is the ultimate goal of India. In fact 
to disregard the demand for Provincial Autonomy and responsible 
Central Government, as the next instalment of reforms, would be 
.a political blunder. It is too late in the day to doubt India's fit- 
ness for democratic institutions when Turkey and Persia have 
.already attained them without Western tutelage for a century and 
a half. Even the moderate labour leader, the ex-Premier 
.Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, recently declared that in a few months, 



132 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

not years, he expects India to join the brotherhood of free 
nations of the Commonwealth on terms of equality as a self- 
governing nation, enjoying full Dominion status. Considering the 
psychological juncture of this first revisory enquiry and the basic 
nature of the report called for, as well as the epoch-making 
events outside India and the British Empire which must inevitably 
react on our political ideals and administrative organisations, it 
is essential that the Indian view-point should be effectively repre- 
sented. It vvould be a calamity if sentence were to be pronounced 
on India's political destiny without a proper presentation of her 
case. 

A natural corollary of progressive realisation of responsible 
government is, on the one hand, India's independence and self- 
reliance in matters fiscal, financial and administrative and, on 
the other, an adequate provision for self-contained development 
of each of the Provincial units which are to be federated into 
the future self-governing Dominion of India. The realisation of 
even a semblance of autonomy would be unthinkable unless the 
financial resources of the Provinces are put on firm and permanent 
foundations, and any tampering with the same by the Central 
Government made impossible by definite statutory provisions. 
The financial independence of Bengal as well as of other 
Provinces should be adequately secured by the re-adjust- 
ment of that unsettling Meston Settlement under which Bengal, 
more than any other province, has groaned for years, and which 
has been officially admitted to have had most damaging and 
destructive results in handicapping the development of the nation- 
building departments. 

The Indianisation of the Services is an unchallenged right of 
India and follows as an inevitable corollary from its goal of 
responsible Self-government. It cannot be denied that the present 
rate of Indianisation is not consistent with the declared aim of 
progressive realisation of responsible government; and it must 
be accelerated. Closely connected with the question of Indianisa- 
tion is the problem of balancing the rights and interests of 
minorities and even of disorganised and backward majorities. 
Alike in the political and economic schemes and the Indianisation 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 133 

policy we must insist upon a harmonious blending of the claims 
and legitimate rights of different sections of the Indian population, 
so that the public might have an abiding faith and the fullest 
confidence in the new administration to be evolved. 

Had Britain in her treatment of India done the right thing 
at the right time and with good grace, the situation would have 
been very different from what it is. If further trouble is to be 
avoided an honest attempt should be made to find a satisfactory, 
generous and lasting solution of the political and constitutional 
problems which have been causing much discontent and even 
disaffection in the country. On the other hand, the issues for 
discussion should not be confused by wild talk of independence. 
I do not think that there breathes a man in India with soul so 
dead as not to desire complete independence of his Motherland. 
But to demand it at once, in the present circumstances, might 
be regarded as mere bluff. Independence, however, should be our 
ultimate goal, for the attainment of which all legitimate means 
should be systematically adopted. 

Nehru Report. Under the impression that political India 
would not be able to draw up a workable constitution for the 
future administration of the country, Lord Birkenhead threw 
out a haughty challenge. Pandit Moti Lai Nehru and his co- 
adjutors deserve our best thanks for promptly and effectively 
responding to that challenge, and they are to be congratulated 
on the success with which they accomplished the patriotic and 
onerous task undertaken by them. As an excellent basis for 
final deliberation and an effective presentation of India's minimum 
joint demand, the value of the report cannot be over-estimated. 
I wish, however, the constitution were drawn up on oriental 
and indigenous lines and not on the lines of occidental foreign 
countries. Perhaps it would have been well if the constitution 
had been worked up from the bottom upwards, from the village 
Panchayet, as in the well-thought-out plan of the late lamented 
Deshabandhu Das. I need hardly say that I am not inclined to 
approve of the policy on the part of some people, to rush the 
proposed constitution into universal acceptance by treating it as 
almost sacrosanct and refusing to listen even to sober and helpful 



*34 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

criticisms. Nor do I for a moment agree with its detractors who* 
would summarily reject it because it has not glorified their 
own pet panaceas of constitutional independence or special and 
separate representation. I have already stated my lack of faith 
in mere resolutions and even constitutions unless they are backed 
by real and abiding unity of hearts, singleness of purpose and 
active and harmonious effort at national reconstruction. 

The controversy between Dominion status and Independence 
is merely academic and futile, because nowhere has a race or 
nation secured independence by mere paper constitutions. Politi- 
cal independence has come only through military violence or 
through an irresistible economic, social and cultural advance 
and a true and permanent political consciousness. The former 
may be at once dismissed as impracticable under present condi- 
tions, and repulsive under any conditions considering our national 
genius and traditional antipathy to violence as long as it can be 
honourably avoided. The latter, to my mind, is the only way 
to attain our freedom. For economic and cultural autonomy 
Dominion status gives us, as it has given to all other Dominions 
under the British Commonwealth, all the scope we need 
for the present. It would be unwise to fritter away our limited 
national energy for the mere name and chimera of independence, 
Our greatest asset to-day is unity of purpose and action and it 
would be a national treachery to jeopardise that essential factor 
in our fight for progress by not accepting the honourable and 
unrestricted possibilities of Dominion Status, which is at present 
the highest common factor of the political demands and ideals 
of 'different groups, schools and communities. 

I understand, gentlemen, you are going to discuss the Report 
at this meeting. It would not be proper for me to anticipate 
your verdict. I should like, however, to let you know what I 
personally feel about certain matters dealt with in the Report. 
Perhaps the most controversial question discussed in the Report 
is that of representation. As I pointed out in my speech in the 
last July session of the Bengal Legislative Council what the 
Musalmans want is adequate and effective representation. From 
their past experience they have reason to think that unless seats 



PRESIDENT OP ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 135 

are reserved and special electorate is provided, an adequate number 
of Musalmans, able and willing to safeguard the interests of 
the community, cannot be returned to the Councils under the 
present circumstances. Unlike other countries where religion 
alone divides the people, in India it is not merely religion but 
traditions, culture, manners, customs and in some cases even 
language and literature that divide the different races and com- 
munities inhabiting it. Besides, restricted suffrage has reduced 
the number of Musalman voters much below what they might 
have claimed on account of their proportion in the population 
and their communal importance. Hence the reasonable fear of 
the Musalmans that they would be swamped in a common joint 
electorate. As a safeguard against the election of undesirable 
persons, I once proposed the insertion of a proviso in the Electoral 
Rules to the effect that unless a Musalman candidate secures a 
certain considerable percentage of the recorded Muslim votes his 
election shall be null and void. This would have averted the 
election of a person bearing Muslim name merely or mainly by 
non-Muslim votes. The situation, however, has radically changed 
with the adoption of adult suffrage as a condition precedent to 
the acceptance of the Nehru Scheme. Adult suffrage automati- 
cally ensures electoral fair-play to all communities and makes 
it possible for each of them to fight for and attain all the repre- 
sentation it is entitled to by its own assertiveness in politics. 
Adult suffrage is also the greatest guarantee against the oppres- 
sion and exploitation of the masses, which lies at the very root 
of our national disorganisation and economic imbecility. The 
Muslims of Bengal, I think, \\ould be ill-advised and short-sighted 
if they do not approve of the actual and educational potentialities 
of adult suffrage as a solution of their special difficulties in 
joining the common national strivings for responsible self- 
government, and as the ultimate political weapon by which they 
can secure their own emancipation by exercising effective electoral 
and legislative power, from all those educational, economic or 
adminitsrative disabilities wbich their own past neglect and the 
natural dominance of the more progressive community had so 
long doomed them to the position of a backward and weakling 



136 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

community. Election to Local bodies in Eastern Bengal districts 
unmistakably shows how the Musalmans may profit by the change 
if they only learn how to assert themselves. It should, however, 
be distinctly understood that if adult suffrage is not provided the 
Musalmans of Bengal would demand representation in proportion 
to their population. The Musalmans on their part should realise 
that it is not possible to stand always on artificial props. These 
are sure to break down sooner or later. So the sooner they can 
dispense with artificial props and manfully stand for their legiti- 
mate rights the better for the community. 

Apart from representation the community attach much import- 
ance to the proper administration of Islamic Law. Not very long 
ago, even during the British administration, special officers, 
such as Muftis and Kazis, used to administer Islamic Law regard- 
ing marriage, divorce, waqf and kindred subjects. It is the desire 
of the Musalmans that similar arrangements for the administra- 
tion of their personal and property law should be made under 
any new constitution. 

One thing to' which I should like to draw your particular 
attention is that any attempt at fusion of the various communities 
either social, cultural or even political is, I am afraid, doomed 
to failure. It is their federation, and not fusion, that should be 
aimed at. In all matters of common and identical interests 
concerted action must be taken. To do otherwise would be 
committing political suicide. After the interests common to all 
are secured, and only then, each community should exert itself 
to safeguard its special interests. Unity between two communities 
does not mean the effacement of the individuality or distinctive 
characteristics of the one or the other community. To combine 
and co-operate to secure common interests and at the same time 
to exert for safeguarding one's own particular interests is the 
rule of human society. Progress of a particular community is 
the progress, though indirect, of the nation which consists of 
various communities. If the different communities are all indivi- 
dually advanced, co-ordination cannot be a matter of much 
difficulty. . . . Our aim is to attain democracy which signifies 
rule by classes and masses and submission to the will of the 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 137 

majority. If even after advancing all the arguments we might 
have to advance, we find the majority against us, our duty is to 
accept the decision of the majority in a sportsmanlike manner. 
To do otherwise would be demonstrating our incapacity for the 
democratic form of government. In conclusion, I would again 
exhort you not to fritter away your energies in petty squabbles 
over rights and privileges of doubtful utility, but to organise 
yourself, and, closing up your ranks and, sinking minor differences, 
unitedly demand your legitimate rights. If you succeed in doing 
this I am sure your goal will be in sight before long. Allahu 
Akbar! 

Maulavi Abdul Karim was selected to preside over 
the function that was arranged to meet the Muslim dele- 
gates from Bengal to the Round Table Conference. The 
following is a summary of his speech on that occasion : 

"I deem it a pleasure and a privilege to be associated with 
this evening's function. I think the Bengal Presidency Anjuman 
liave done well in arranging to meet the Muslim delegates from 
Bengal to the Round Table Conference. It is very desirable that 
they should have some indication of our demands regarding the 
future constitution. 

I have known Moulvi Fazlul Huq from his very boyhood 
and have had the pleasure of watching his career with deep 
interest all these years during which he made his mark in 
the political arena of the country. His close association with 
different matters concerning the Muslim community entitles him 
to speak with some authority on behalf of his co-religionists, 
whom he has been called upon to represent on this historic 
occasion. His versatile genius and undoubted debating power 
eminently qualify him for effectively putting the case of the 
Muslims before the Round Table Conference. 

Much as we appreciate the choice of Moulvi Fazlul Huq, 
I can hardly conceal the disappointment the Bengal Muslims feel 
in not finding in the list of delegates the name of Sir Abdur 
Rahim. As one Province, Bengal accounts for the largest Muslim 
population in India, and as such the Bengal Muslims rightly 



138 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

expected a more generous treatment in the matter of representa- 
tion to such an important conference. Sir Abdur Rahim, as you 
are aware, occupies a unique position in Bengal and he is a 
politician of all-India repute with varied experience. His saga- 
city and grasp of the constitutional issues involved might Have 
made him of invaluable service to the Round Table Conference. 
Our hopes are, however, centred in Moulvi Fazlul Huq and his 
colleague, Mr. Abdul Halim Gh'uznavi, whose forceful advocacy 
of Muslim cause would, we trust, secure the redress of our 
grievances and safeguard our interests in the future con- 
stitutional arrangement. 

Representation in Local Legislature. As regards demands, I 
think you will agree with me when I say that the first and 
foremost demand of the Muslims of Bengal is that their represen- 
tation in the local legislature should be in accordance with their 
numerical strength in the Province. The Muslims of Bengal 
could never get themselves reconciled to the inequitable arrange- 
ment proposed in the Lucknow pact and unfortunately accepted 
by the framers of the current Reform Scheme, which relegated 
the Muslim majority in the Province to the intolerable position 
of minority. It is a pity that Sir John Simon and his colleagues- 
could not gauge the intensity of Muslim feeling in the matter to 
propose adjustment of this unfair state of things. If representa- 
tion to the local council in proportion to their population in the 
Province is denied to the Muslims of Bengal a grave injustice 
will be done to them, and it will always remain a rankling sore 
in their heart. 

Electorate. The next matter of paramount importance to the 
Muslims is the question of electorate. Seasonal visit of a flying 
character can hardly be expected to lead one deep down into 
the causes which necessitated the seemingly incongruous demand 
for a separate electorate by a community which happens to have 
a numerical superiority. I wish the members of the Simon 
Commission were present on the occasion of election in Bengal 
to realise the unbounded influence exercised on the Muslim voters 
by the landed aristocracy and by tjiose who are responsible for 
financing of occupations in which the Muslims of Bengal are 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 139 

generally engaged. Until the Muslims are educationally pushed 
forward and lifted from their present position of economic 
degradation, so that they may freely exercise their suffrage, there 
can be no escape from the existing system of electorate. Its 
change at this stage would inevitably perpetrate in effect the 
rule of the minority over the majority. 

Safeguard. Another vital demand of the Muslims in common 
with other minorities is the incorporation of the necessary safe- 
guards for the protection of Muslim interest in the Statute itself 
instead of leaving them to the whims and caprices of individuals 
or bodies. The delegates would do well to insist upon this in 
the conference, 

Representation in Central Legislature The attention oi 
Muslim India is at present riveted on the question of Muslim 
representation in the proposed Federal Assembly. Apart from 
numerical strength their political importance and history should 
be taken into account in deciding the proportion of their 
representation. A third of the seats is their minimum demand 
and no alteration in this proportion would be tolerated by the 
community. I think we shall be only correctly representing 
Muslim opinion in forewarning the Muslim delegates to the 
Round Table Conference not to be party to any compromise in 
this matter. 

Method of Election. Coming to the method of election pro- 
posed for the Federal Assembly, we make no hesitation in 
characterising the indirect method suggested in the Report of 
the Simon Commission as surprisingly retrograde. Hardly any 
convincing justification has been put forward for inviting us to 
go backward. The assumed proportion of seats likely to be held 
by the Muslims under the proposed system, as shown in the 
Report, is based on superficial evidence of people unacquainted 
with the reality of the Indian situation. The proposed system 
of indirect election would hardly give the Muslims adequate 
representation in the Federal Assembly. The community cannot, 
therefore, countenance the idea of changing from the direct to 
the indirect method of election for the Assembly. 



I4O LIFE OF A. KARIM 

Central Government. While the country is crying hoarse 
for Dominion Status and impatience is driving people to the 
ideal of complete independence, the Simon Commission propose 
a constitution for the Central Legislature which hardly makes 
any attempt to meet popular aspirations. We welcome the idea 
of a federal constitution, but cannot lose sight of the fact that 
the powers proposed to be vested in the Federal Assembly are 
not calculated to bring the administration of India under greater 
popular control. In certain respects the proposed constitution 
marks a distinctly retrograde step. The vesting of effective 
control of affairs in the hands of peoples' representatives is the 
most universal and insistent demand of India, and no section of 
the Indian public can be expected to get reconciled to any form of 
constitution which falls short in this respect. The Federal 
Assembly in the form suggested would be, I am afraid, nothing 
more than a glorified debating society. We do recognize the 
necessity of safeguards for the transitional period, but that 
should not be made a plea for non-transference of effective 
power to the representatives of the people. 

Public Service. Nothing is more calculated to solidify Indian 
opinion in support of the future constitution than to give it a 
shape that would dispel all suspicion of ushering in class rule. 
Everything possible should be done to reassure all classes of 
Indian people that their legitimate claims for sharing in the 
administration of the country would not be denied. This would 
create the necessary enthusiasm which alone would ensure suc- 
cessful working of the constitution. Every class and community 
should be invited to vitalise the administrative machinery of 
India by their special contribution. The danger of prepon- 
derance of any class or community in the services of the country 
should, therefore, be scrupulously avoided. It is desirable that 
some statutory provision should be made so as to ensure to the 
community its legitimate share in the administration. 

Provincial GovernmentAs regards Provinces, the Diarchical 
constitution, hedged in by numerous restrictions and reservations, 
has proved unsatisfactory and unsuitable for the growth of a 
sense of responsibility. No one expected better result from such 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 141 

a hybrid system of government. Indian opinion is unanimous 
that so far as the Provinces are concerned, complete responsi- 
bility should be vested in the people and provincial administra- 
tion should be carried on with little interference from any 
quarter. The Simon Commission's proposal for the inclusion 
of official Minister in the cabinet is so diametrically opposed to 
all principles of democratic government that it rightly deserved 
the scathing condemnation the proposal has provoked in different 
quarters. Acceptance of this suggestion of the Commission 
would only mean perpetuation of the same much-abused 
diarchical form of government under the camouflage of a 
different name. Too much reserve power given to the Provincial 
rulers would prove another impediment to the growth of demo- 
cracy and a right sense of responsibility. Not that we do not 
realise the necessity of reserve power, but extensive power of 
this kind, concentrated in the hands of the Governor, would 
frustrate the very object of developing democratic government. 

It is not for me to remind the delegates of the solemn 
responsibility that rests on them. They have been called upon 
to represent India on a momentous occasion, unprecedented in 
the history of British connection, and involving issues on which 
the future of India so largely depends. We hope and trust 
India's representatives would rise to the height of the occasion 
and approach important problems in a liberal spirit and with 
breadth of view to be in a position to present a united front 
in the conference. I fully share the regret expressed in various 
quarters on the unfortunate decision of the congress party not 
to participate in the deliberations of the Round Table Con- 
ference. This decision, I need hardly say, has added enormously 
to the burden of responsibility of the delegates attending the 
Conference. I am sure they would spare no pains in effectively 
presenting the case of India in that august body so as to secure 
the largest measure of acceptance of our demands. In the dis- 
charge of their onerous duties the delegates will have the 
support of our prayers, blessings and benedictions. 

On January 24th, 1929, a crowded meeting was held 
in the Albert Hall to express sympathy for King 



142 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

Amanulllah in his troubles. Maulavi Abdul Karim was 
elected president of the meeting and he opened the pro- 
ceedings with the following speech: 

Gentlemen, I thank you for the honour you have done me 
by asking me to preside over this meeting. The object that 
has brought us together here this evening, as you are aware, 
is to express our sympathy with the ex-King Amanullah for 
the loss of the throne, and to condemn the action of those who 
have caused his fall. I need hardly say that it is with the 
utmost concern and anxiety that we have been watching the 
regrettable happenings in Afghanistan, where reactionary forces 
have got the upper hand for the present and put an end, let 
us hope only temporarily, to peace and order in that country. 
As you know King Amanullah, within the short period of his 
reign, made his mark in the political world and proved himself 
an ideal ruler. In fact by his wise administration and 
enlightened reforms he has captured the imagination not only 
of his co-religionists, but of all right-thinking people all over the 
world. His industrial, educational and political reforms have 
converted the medieval kingdom of Afghanistan into a modern 
progressive state. He might have been a little over-zealous in 
the social reforms and might have proceeded too fast, but there 
can be no question about the purity of his motive. The reforms 
which he initiated were intended for the amelioration not only 
of his subjects but of humanity at large and they might have 
done great credit even to the most enlightened and progressive 
sovereign in any country and in any age. Let us hope that 
the seeds which he has sown, though on ill-prepared soil, will 
germinate before long and will ultimately produce such fruits 
as will leaven up political Asia and invigorate human society. 
The fall of such a king cannot but be regarded as a great 
calamity not only for Afghanistan but for the whole of Asia. 
The rebels and reactionaries, who have brought about his over- 
throw, cannot be condemned in too strong a language. We hope 
and trust they will be soon put down and Amanullah will be 
restored to power and will be in a position to "take a prominent 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 143 

part in the federation of the races and nations of Asia. Being 
our next-door neighbours, the Afghans are entitled to our moral 
and material support. It is most desirable that all possible 
practical steps should be taken to help them in their trouble. 

The situation in Afghanistan is already very complicated. 
It is to be hoped it will not be further complicated either by 
Bolshevic intrigue or British intervention. A suspicion has, 
however, arisen in the latter respect on account of what our 
old friend, Sir Michael O'Dwyer, who never misses an oppor- 
tunity to give expression to his friendly feelings, has said. He 
should have known that it is now too late to accuse Amanullah 
of usurpation. Is it not preposterous to say that one who 
ascended his father's throne, with the consent of all his people, 
was a usurper, although he might have omitted to procure the 
consent of the great Governor of the Punjab ? I need hardly 
say that it would be a dangerous political blunder, perhaps 
involving disastrous consequences, to interfere in any way in 
the internal affairs of Afghanistan. It is hoped due notice would 
be taken of the timely warning sounded from some quarters. 

I am exceedingly glad, gentlemen, that this meeting has 
been attended by such a large number of our non-Muslim 
brethren. It is but natural that they should sympathise in the 
troubles of a sovereign who has been very generous in his treat- 
ment of his non-Muslim subjects, and so frankly sympathetic to 
India's political aspirations. In fact the non-Muslim subjects 
of all important Muslim States, such as Hyderabad and Bhopal 
to name only two in India, have all along enjoyed the same 
rights and privileges as their Muslim fellow subjects enjoy. In 
a paper which I have to read in the Parliament of religions to 
be shortly held at Calcutta, I am going to illustrate how in 
the eyes of Islamic Law the Muslim and non-Muslim subjects 
of Muslim States are equal. If generous sentiments, undaunted 
patriotism, reformative zeal and passionate striving to modernise 
and advance an Islamic Asiatic country go for anything, the 
name of Amanullah will live long in human memory even as 
Afghanistan has now been placed by him on the world's inter- 



144 UFE OF A. KARIM 

national maps. If, God forbid, he should not rise again, hi& 
fall will yet deserve the epitaph that : 

"It is better to have striven and lost, 
Than never to have aspired at all." 

Acharyya Prafulla Chandra Roy moved the following: 
resolution with a powerful speech : 

This meeting expresses its deep and profound sympathy 
with His Majesty King Amanullah in His Majesty's present 
troubles and earnestly hopes that under God's providence and 
aided by the loyalty and devotion of his Majesty's faithful sub- 
jects, His Majesty will prevail over the machinations of his 
enemies and will long be spared to lead Afghanistan in the 
path of glory and progress. 

This meeting expresses its deep abhorrence of those 
intriguers, domestic and foreign, whoever they may be, who- 
have fomented the present troubles in Afghanistan to further 
their selfish purposes and to put obstacles in the path of progress 
and prosperity of the country. 

This meeting is clearly and emphatically of opinion that 
the British Government should observe strict and absolute 
neutrality in the matter of the present Afghan troubles, that it 
should not either overtly or covertly take a single step such as 
may be construed as an encouragement to the rebels, and above 
all that no part of India's money should be diverted so as to* 
help the rebels in any way to hamper the activities of His 
Majesty the King Amanullah. 

The resolution was seconded by Mr. J. I,. Banner jee 
and supported by the late Mr. Bepin Chandra Pal, 
Mr. Subash Chandra Bose, the late Mr. Shyam Sunder 
Chakravarty and others. 

Maulavi Abdul Karim was elected President of the 
Annual Session of the Bengal Presidency Muslim I^eague, 
held in November, 1933. His presidential speech, which 
was his last important political speech, was highly appre- 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 145 

elated by some of the eminent personages of Bengal whose 
opinions will be found at the end of the speech. 

"Gentlemen, as you are aware we have met after two years; 
there was no annual session of the Provincial league last year. 
It is extremely to be regretted that at this critical juncture in 
the history of modern India, when the need for unity and 
solidarity cannot be over-stressed, there should be so much 
bickering among some of the prominent members of this un- 
fortunate community. While other communities have been 
actively organising themselves and vigorously mobilising all their 
forces for the fight ahead, Muslim energy and resources are 
being frittered away in unseemly wranglings for leadership, by 
setting up organisations of doubtful utility. Need I say this is 
tantamount to committing political suicide ? . . . . 

White Paper Constitution. Of all the questions that at 
present require serious consideration of the country, the con- 
stitution forecasted in the White Paper is the most important. 
Notwithstanding some improvement on the present constitution 
in certain respects, the proposed constitution has such funda- 
mental defects that it would not be altogether incorrect to 
characterise it as a reactionary measure. As unmistakably 
indicated by the trenchant criticism and severe condemnation 
pouring in from almost all quarters in the country and from 
almost all sections of politically-minded Indians, it falls far short 
of the aspirations of the people. It is not a compliment to 
British statesmanship that six long years* incessant and careful 
deliberation has not succeeded in producing a constitution accept- 
able to the people concerned. It would not be far from truth to 
say that the White Paper is a triumph for the die-hard 
reactionaries of the Churchillian type, who are anxious to retain 
political dominance over the people of India and cannot think 
of relinquishing their so-called sacred trust 

The scheme adumbrated in the White Paper seems to have 
its birth in suspicion and distrust rather than to be based on 
confidence and goodwill; otherwise so many restrictions and 
eservatioris would not have been thought necessary. It 
envisages a government which is neither akin to Dominion 
10 



14^ LIFE OF A. KARIM 

Status nor to any kind of real self-government. In fact the 
White Paper contains no commitment that Dominion Status 
could ever be secured or that Defence and Finance would ever 
be handed over to the Indians. Unless the outlined scheme 
undergoes radical alteration at the hands of the Joint Parlia- 
mentary Committee in the direction of the removal of the various 
checks on the freedom of the legislature and guaranteeing of 
an appreciable measure of genuine responsibility, the political 
discontent in India cannot be allayed to any great extent. 

It seems to have been so arranged that responsibility in the 
Central Government, without which Provincial Autonomy would 
be an anomaly and a misnomer, might not come into operation 
within any measurable distance of time. I am not quite certain 
Why the federation of the States is to be regarded as so very 
essential I am afraid it may serve as a ballast against Indian 
nationalism and the hesitation of the States to join the federa- 
tion may be an excuse for putting off indefinitely the introduc- 
tion of responsibility at the Centre. There seems to be no reason 
why the units of British Indian Provinces and Presidencies could 
not have been federated together for the purpose of adminis- 
tration in British India. The States, if they liked, might have 
come in later on. The proposed federation might not have the 
willing acquiescence of the Indian Muslims. For, the inclusion 
of the States in the federation would prove rather detrimental 
to the interests of the community, the proportion of whose 
representation in the Central Administration would be con- 
siderably reduced thereby. 

As indicated by the numerous restrictions, reservations and 
so-called "safeguards", India under the proposed constitution is 
not likely to get * a substantial measure of genuine self-govern- 
ment. That the alien grip will be further tightened rather than 
relaxed in certain essential matters, may be realised by a 
reference to the extensive powers and prerogatives proposed to 
be vested in the irresponsible Executive Heads of the Provincial 
and Federal Governments. The constitution will be practically 
at the mercy of an Executive Head, who can bring about, by his 
wide and loosely-defined overriding powers, a deadlock at any 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 147 

time, if he be so inclined, his ultimate responsibility being not 
to the people of India but to the British Parliament through the 
Secretary of State. The Legislature will be absolutely powerless 
to make its own will operative against his wishes. I think there 
is no parallel to this anomalous state of things in the history 
of self-governing institutions. The irresponsible Executive 
Head will not only hold absolute sway over the administration 
of the "reserved subjects'*, including Defence and Foreign 
Affairs, but he will have power to enact laws on his own sole 
authority and over the head of the Legislature, which he cannot 
do even under the present constitution. There can be no analogy 
between the powers to be exercised by the Executive Heads in 
India and the powers exercised by the President of th'e United 
States of America and other self-governing countries, where the 
President is a national leader and though not formally 
responsible to the Legislature, has always to act on the authority 
derived from the people by whom he is elected. 

No one can deny that some reserve powers for the Executive 
Head are necessary, particularly during the transitional period. 
But these must not be so very wide and unrestricted as to enable 
him to paralyse the working of the constitution whenever it suits 
his purpose. Besides, nothing has been said as to when such 
extensive powers will be curtailed or withdrawn. 

The smooth working of the proposed constitution will 
entirely depend upon the capacity, sympathy, tact and resource- 
fulness of the Executive Heads. I have no doubt they will be 
selected with due care and discrimination. It would be, how- 
ever, too much to expect that all or most of them would possess 
the sympathy, liberal views and breadth of vision of a Ripon 
or an Irwin. There is hardly anything in the proposed constitu- 
tion that may restrain a Governor of the Sydenham or O'Dwyerian 
type from assuming, whenever it may please him to do. so, the 
role of an absolute dictator and to play the part of an aggressive 
Hilter or Mussolini. Let us hope that, as a rule, such con- 
siderate and far-seeing Governors would be appointed as would 
refrain from creating occasions for the exercise of their 



148 UFK OF A. KARIM 

extraordinary overriding powers, which might cause a break-down 
of the constitution. 

I think there is time yet to get the White Paper constitution 
revised and modified in the desired direction by vigorous 
agitation. I should not omit to state that I deprecate movements 
for the boycott of the council and working of a constitution 
when it is actually placed on the Statute Book. For a subject 
nation it is futile to say we would not accept it, we would not 
work it. I could have understood such a position had there 
been unanimity and solidarity in the country. In the existing 
circumstances, while one will not accept and work a constitu- 
tion and another will, it is well to work the established constitu- 
tion for what it is worth. I have sad experience of how the 
vital interests of the country have grievously suffered by the 
boycott of the councils by a class of people who might have 
formed a very strong opposition and might have averted the 
enactment of ordinances and other stringent measures that have 
hit the people very hard. 

Communal Award. Up to now I have scrupulously avoided 
saying publicly anything regarding what has come to be known 
as the Premier's "Communal Award", which has unfortunately 
evoked much acrimonious controversy both in the press and on 
the platform, lest I should add to the regrettable bitterness of 
feeling already prevailing, particularly among the aggressive 
members of both the communities. Now that, as President of 
the League, I have to speak and reference to this controversial 
matter is unavoidable, I hope to be excused for giving free and 
frank expression to my views in spite of the risk I may run of 
being pilloried by a section of the public. I think it is time to 
speak out boldly. At the outset I should not omit to say that 
I am not one of those who think that any section of the Indian 
people can really benefit by the discomfiture of any other section. 
My honest belief is that neither the political nor the economic 
salvation of India can be achieved unless and until its two great 
communities, the Hindus and the Muslims, who are destined to 
swim or sink together, closely combine and heartily c6-operate 
for the common good of the motherland. The full recognition 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 149 

of the political status of the people, unless demanded by them 
in a body, is, I think, an utter impossibility. The first item in 
any programme of economic and political reconstruction of India, 
must, therefore, be the unity among the communities inhabiting 
it. Failure to create inter-communal harmony and goodwill 
means the perpetuation of her bondage by stultifying all schemes 
of reform and progress. Nothing is more essential for the 
political and economic regeneration of the country than the 
solidarity of its people. 

Accustomed, as I have been, to an atmosphere in which 
inter-communal unity and cordiality were hardly ever disturbed, 
and social amenities between the Hindus and Muslims were of 
common occurrence, it pains me much to see that at this critical 
stage of the history of the country, some short-sighted members 
of both the communities have been adopting the suicidal policy 
of injuring one another. It seems that a fit of insanity has seized 
them and, in their madness, they are flying at each other's 
throat; thus affording an opportunity of further tightening the 
chains of bondage with which they are knit together. Slaves 
fighting among themselves for imaginary wrongs or doubtful 
rights must be a most unedifying spectacle for the world's free 
onlookers to witness. What is most strange in connection with 
this unfortunate affair is that this is being done in the name of 
religion, which is intended to be the greatest humanising and 
harmonising force in the world. Promotion of goodwill and 
fellow-feeling among God's creatures is the message both of the 
Vedas and the Quran. Yet some members of both the commu- 
nities, forgetting the injunctions of their respective scriptures, 
have been quarrelling frantically over trifling matters in which 
no cardinal principle of either religion is really involved. Have 
not the Hindus and Muslims, whose economic and other interests 
are identical, peacefully lived together for centuries in the 
common land of their birth? Did not the Hindus observe their 
religious rites with music and the Muslims by sacrificing cows? 
Did any body ever hear until recently of terrible occurrences 
such as those that have made Kulkati and Beldanga, which are 
BO new colonies and must have been inhabited for centuries by 



150 UFE OF A. KARIM 

Hindus and Muslims, so very notorious ? Am I to understand 
that the present-day Hindus and Muslims are more religious, 
more orthodox, than their ancestors were, that the former can- 
not tolerate sacrifice of cows only once a year for a religious 
purpose, while, as forcibly pointed out by Dr. Rabindranath 
Tagore, thousands of cows are slaughtered everyday for 
supplying food to the British soldiers and Christian and Muslim 
inhabitants, and the latter are so very disturbed merely by the 
music of Hindu processionists and not by the screams of motor 
horns, tram sounds and piano and gramophone music in their 
neighbouring houses, that they cannot say their prayers 
properly ? My impression is that it is the work of designing 
people who miss no opportunity to create imaginary grievances 
for their own ends. Some trifling political rights that were 
conferred at first by the Minto-Morley scheme of reform and 
then by the Montague-Chelmsford scheme and now propoied to 
be a little augmented by the White Paper constitution, seem to 
have proved a veritable apple of discord. Need I say that if 
this lamentable communal tension continues, it would be futile 
to talk of political or economic regeneration of the country ? 
Would it be too much to expect that the thoughtful and far- 
sighted members of both the communities, realising the extreme 
gravity of the situation, would bestir themselves betimes to 
avert what may prove disastrous to the true interests of their 
country and community ? I refuse to believe that a real recon- 
ciliation cannot be effected. I would appeal to them, with all 
the earnestness I can command, to immediately set about clearing 
the atmosphere of all suspicion and distrust. It has to be 
realised that providence has cast our lot in one common mother- 
land and we have to live together and die together in this great 
land of our birth It is impossible for one community to 
annihilate the other. In fact the unity of the two communities 
is the greatest asset to the political and economical well-being 
of India. It should, therefore, be adopted as the first article of 
political creed, and not as a mere matter of political expediency. 
Let us not forget for a moment that it is only by mutual trust 
and mutual co-operation between the Hindus and the Muslims 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 151 

that the destiny of India can be achieved, and let there be a 
real unity of heart as well as of head, a unity bred of mutual 
love and trust and free from all traces of suspicion and distrust. 

I disagree with those who hold that in Bengal, for the 
present, the only course is to run the administration on com- 
munal lines, and there can be no alternative to a communal 
government. In the existing circumstances, such a government, 
I am afraid, will break down sooner or later, and after much 
suffering, when good sense will prevail, a non-communal govern- 
ment will have to be established. By this I do not mean to 
indicate that either community has not the capacity to carry on 
the administration efficiently Hindus have ruled over Muslims 
and Muslims ha\e ruled over Hindus \\ithout any extraordinary 
perturbation Even now the Prime Minister of the largest 
Muslim State in India, Raja Kishan Parshad, is a Hindu, and 
Sir Mir/a Ismail is the Dewan of the largest Hindu State. They 
are quite efficiently administering their respective States Just 
now another eminent Muslim, Sir Muhammad Habibullah, has 
been appointed Dewan of the important state of Travancore. 
From what I know of him I have no doubt that he will justify 
his appointment But circumstanced as Bengal is at present, 
only a government in which different communities will have 
their legitimate share, is likeh to be successful. 

Let us for a while examine the credentials of those who have 
been posing themselves as leaders of their communities, deriving 
their authority from bodies like the Hindu Mahasabha on one 
side and the Muslim Conference on the other, and making the 
world believe that they are sincerely fighting for their vital 
interests. It may be pertinently asked in this connection who 
form the great communities in Bengalthe microscopic classes 
or the overwhelming!} large masses? The answer to this 
query, I have no doubt, \\ill be, "the masses". If this answer 
is correct, then the inevitable conclusion is that it is the interests 
of the masses, and not those of the classes, that constitute the 
interests of the country and the communities. The next question 
to be Considered is whether the interests of the classes and 
the masses are one and the same. For an answer to this 



152 UFE OF A. KARIM 

question I would refer you to the proceedings of the Bengal 
Legislative Council on the occasion of the discussion of the 
Bengal Tenancy Bill, which will show what a strenuous fight 
the representatives and hirelings of the landed aristrocacy put 
up for the protection of their so-called rights against the rights 
of the agriculturists. If the interests of the classes and the 
masses are not indentical, what justification can there be for the 
representatives of the landed aristocracy and the capitalists to 
claim to be the protectors of the interests of the agriculturists, 
who by their numerical strength constitute what may be called 
the Indian nation. Have they made any attempt, worth 
mentioning, for the relief of the peasant sufferers ? Did they 
stir a finger when poor peasants who had assembled at 
Hasnabad to ventilate their grievances and to organise them- 
selves for advancing their cause, were fired upon, and on other 
similar occasions ? 

Who are responsible for the unseemly communal squabbles ? 
Certainly not the uneducated illiterate masses. My official duties 
carried me to many of the villages in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, 
where I found Hindus and Muslims, whose economic and other 
interests are, in most cases, identical, living most peacefully 
on the best of terms, never quarrelling for any doubtful right 
or imaginary grievance. It matters little to them if one com- 
munity gets a seat more or a seat less in the council or a post 
more or a post less in service. My belief is that it is people who 
call themselves educated that have set the communal squabble 
agoing, in many instances for their own ends. There is nothing 
strange in this; of the many evils that a purely secular godless 
occidental education has introduced into the country, selfishness 
is decidedly one. 

Now let us calmly and dispassionately examine the "Com- 
munal Award" and see what ground there is for the unseemly 
row over it. Has it really given any undue advantage to one 
community at the cost of the other? If democracy is our just 
demand, if adult franchise is really wanted, then on what other 
basis can the seats in the legislature be distributed than -on the 
basis of population? If this assumption is correct, then it is 



PRESIDENT OP ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 153 

numerical strength of a community, and not education, wealth 
or influence, or even service or sacrifice, that counts. That this 
has been well realised by our Hindu brethren is evident from 
their anxiety to swell their numbers by the possible means. 
There was all along a general impression that a Hindu can only 
be born and not made. Conversion of non-Hindus and re- 
conversion of converted Hindus to Hinduism, was altogether 
unknown in India. In fact the survival of Hinduism almost in 
its pristine condition, despite the many vicissitudes through 
which it had to pass for centuries on account of the onslaughts 
of Buddhism, Jainism, Islam and Christianity, is rightly ascribed 
to its extreme conservatism and non-proselytising character. 
The Suddhi and kindred movements, recently started, seem to 
have altered the situation. It remains, however, to be seen 
whether the high caste orthodox Hindus, so proud of their 
pedigree and orthodoxy, really accept the converted and recon- 
verted people as their own, or treat them as outcastes. From 
a Muslim point of view there is nothing in it to be sorry for. 
Suddhi movement is nothing but an approach towards Islam. If 
it spreads extensively, it may ultimately lead to the real 
Islamisation of the whole of India, if not in name. 

It was on the assumption that in a democratic form of 
government seats in the legislature have to be divided on the 
basis of population that the Premier gave the assurance that in 
no province would the majority be reduced to minority or even 
to equality. Has he acted in accordance with this assurance? 
Has he not by his "Communal Award" reduced the Muslim 
majority in Bengal into a statutory minority? If so, is not this 
a real grievance for the redress of which the Muslims would be 
quite justified in agitating ? Providence has placed certain com- 
munities in certain provinces in an advantageous position. It 
would be futile to agitate to change it. The sooner the clamour 
ceases the better will it be for the country. 

If the row over the "Communal Award" had been on 
account of the abnormally large proportion of seats assigned to 
the Europeans, who have got 25 while barely entitled, on a 
population basis, to a couple of seats, I would have been con- 



154 WFE OF A. KARIM 

vinced of its justification. The attack on the Muslims, who are 
in no way responsible for the award and who have themselves 
a serious grievance in the matter, is wholly unjustified. I have 
reason to believe if the Hindus and Muslims had combined in a 
vigorous agitation against the allocation of an enormously larger 
number of seats to the Europeans than they are entitled to, they 
could. have got back some of them. In allocating seats to the 
Europeans the Premier has not been unjust particularly to the 
Hindu community of Bengal. If arithmetically worked out, it 
will be seen that he has taken as many Muslim seats as he has 
taken Hindu seats according to the respective population of 
the two communities. The Hindu delegates from Bengal to the 
Round Table Conference are perhaps more to blame, if my 
information is correct, for the Communal Award than anybody 
else. If they had not objected to the allocation of 51 per cent, 
seats of the whole house to the Muslims, they being entitled to 
54 on population basis, in a joint electorate, the Premier's inter- 
ference might not have been necessary. I have got in my 
possession a letter signed by the two Muslim delegates from 
Bengal asking our consent to the above mentioned arrangement. 

The "Communal Award", as it stands at present, will never 
be accepted by the Bengal Muslims, as it saps the very founda- 
tion of democratic principles and put them in a statutory mino- 
rity. I should not omit to sound a note of warning to the self- 
appointed and Government-made leaders of the community, and 
to others concerned, that young Muslim Bengal, now wide awake 
to their true interests, are not likely to allow the bartering away 
of their birthright without a challenge. If to-day the Muslims 
of Bengal were well-organised to give unequivocal expression to 
their cherished ideas, who could have dared sell their rights for 
a mess of pottage ? 

In the controversy that is raging round the communal award 
frequent reference has been made to the I/ucknow Pact by some 
notable Hindu leaders, who liave tried to make capital out of 
its terms, oblivious of the fact that these were replaced 
by the terms of the "Hindu-Muslim Pact" of 1923, details of 
which have been given in chapter VI of this book. The Lucknow 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS I'55 

Pact, which was meant for the whole of India and did not 
take into account the peculiar local circumstances of Bengal, 
did not envisage a democratic form of government, but was 
c6ncerned with a scheme of some small reforms in the existing 
bureaucratic administration. Besides, the lyucknow conference 
was dominated by influential Muslims of upper India who, for 
the sake of getting the weightage of a few additional seats for 
their co-religionists in the legislatures of their Provinces, did 
not hesitate to give their consent to the reduction of the Muslim 
majority in Bengal to a definite minority, and the Muslim dele- 
gates from Bengal were too few and too weak to get their pro- 
test heard. This inequitable arrangement was regarded by the 
politically-conscious Muslims of Bengal as a grave injustice done 
to their community, and they could never get themselves recon- 
ciled to it ; it remained a rankling sore in their heart. In a 
decade's time the circumstances in the country greatly changed, 
the Pact was found to have outgrown its utility, and it was 
thought that the changed circumstances required a new pro- 
gramme to meet them. Accordingly I entered into a discussion 
of the situation with the late lamented Mr. C. R. Das. The term 
that evoked much controversy was the one that related to electo- 
rate. Fearing that there might be a break-down, Maulana Abul 
Kalam Azad, who was present, proposed joint electorate for two 
terms, and in case of its failure, reversion to separate electorate. 
But on the insistence of the Muslims present, the order was 
reversed, and it was agreed, though not stated in the Pact, that 
there could be joint electorate after two terms. Had Mr. Das 
been alive and had there been no embitterment of feelings between 
the two communities over trifling matters, the question of elec- 
torate would have been, by this time, settled, I think, to the 
satisfaction of all concerned. The Bengal Provincial Muslim 
League expressed their definite opinion, times out of number, 
regarding the system of electorate, but they did not receive any 
active co-operation in this matter from any section of the Hindus, 
nationalists or liberals. The recent happenings in the Calcutta 
"Corporation and elsewhere seem to have stiffened the attitude 
of the Muslims, and some of those who were very much in 



156 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

favour of joint electorate seem to have changed their mind. If 
time had permitted, I could have shown that this is not such a 
vital thing to either community as to be the cause of incalculable 
injury to the interests of the country by friction between the 
two communities. Would that good sense had prevailed even 
now and some formula on the lines of the late lamented Maulana 
Muhammed Ali's formula or Maulana Azad's suggestion referred 
to, were evolved and sincerely accepted by both parties. 

Tremendous was the agitation that was set up against the 
Pact by a section of the Hindu community, headed by some of 
their most influential leaders. But the towering personality of 
that great patriot whose keen vision could transcend the limited 
boundaries set up to the political horizon by his narrow-minded 
and short-sighted co-religionists, triumphed, and bore down all 
opposition. Mr. Das, truly called Deshbandhu, the true friend 
of the country, who stood by the Pact as long as he lived, got 
it passed by the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee, the sig- 
nature of whose the then Secretary, Mr. Subhas Chandra Bose, 
it bears. The records of that Committee will corroborate the 
truth of what I have stated. The Pact still stands ; I am not 
aware of the cancellation of the proceedings of the meeting of 
the Bengal Provincial Congress Committee at which it was passed. 
Subsequently when the Pact was vehemently opposed in the 
All-India Congress Committee by the late Pandit Shyamsundar 
Chakravarty and others, Deshbandhu firmly stuck to his guns 
and so unyieldingly pleaded for Provincial Autonomy that he 
had to be allowed to manage the affairs of his Province in 
accordance with the decision of the Provincial Committee. 
Later on in the Sirajganj Provincial Conference, and not only 
in the provincial Conference but in the Provincial Hindu 
Mahasava Conference as well, the Pact was passed by an over- 
whelming majority, despite vehement opposition by some of the 
most prominent members of the Hindu community. The charge 
against the Government of showing undue favour to the Muslims 
by giving them a larger number of seats than they were 
entitled to, has, therefore, absolutely no foundation. If seats 
were allocated according to the terms of the Hindu-Muslim Pact, 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 157 

the Muslims would have got a larger number. Would that some 
Hindu leader with Deshbandhu's long vision, large heart, 
indomitable will and courage of conviction had arisen and 
brought peace to his unfortunate motherland. No doubt it 
augurs well for the future that just at this psychological moment 
the worthy son of a worthy father has very emphatically spoken 
out. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has viewed the situation in its 
true perspective. He has not hesitated to characterise Bhai 
Pramananda's Mahasabha as "a small reactionary group pro- 
fessing to speak on behalf of the Hindus of India whom it was 
very far from representing. " Nothing during recent months has 
pained him so much as the activities of the Mahasabha group, 
which has, "proclaimed its policy to be one of elimination of 
Muslims and Christians from India and the establishment of a 
Hindu Raj. 1 * "The statement has made it clear", says 
Mr. Nehru, "what the pretensions of the Mahasabha about 
Indian nationalism amounted to under cover of seeming 
nationalism." "The Mahasabha not only hid the rankest and 
narrowest communalism", he goes on, "but also desired to 
preserve the vested interests of a group of big Hindu landlords 
and princes. The policy of the Mahasabha, as declared by its 
responsible leaders, was a denial of every vestige of nationalism 

and a suppression of every manly instinct in Hindus 

Anything more degrading, reactionary, anti-national, anti-pro- 
gressive and harmful than the present policy of the Hindu 
Mahasabha it is difficult to imagine. The leaders of the Maha- 
sabha must realise that the inevitable consequence of this policy 
is for the rest of India, Hindu or non-Hindu, to face them 
squarely and oppose them.' 1 

What can be more condemnatory than this ? It is indeed 
a happy sign of the times that the staunch upholder of Hindu 
orthodoxy, the great Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya, who 
presided over the meeting at which Pandit Jawaharlal made the 
above-quoted observations, endorsed the views of the young 
Pandit, if not his words, and dissociated himself from the 
resolutions passed by the Mahasabha. I may say in passing that 
that it has given me a great shock to see the Congress organs 



158 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

in Bengal, both English and vernacular, taking active part in 
the acrimonious controversy over the "Communal Award." 

There is nothing unnatural in what is being done by some 
short-sighted members of both the communities. It would be 
ignoring human nature to expect that emoluments long enjoyed 
would be readily relinquished or that rights regarded as legiti- 
mately due would not be unyieldingly demanded. If the position 
of the two communities were reversed, perhaps the situation 
would not have been very different. For reasons too well-known 
to need narration, our Hindu brethren have long enjoyed an 
enormously large share in the provincial administration. Once 
a gentleman referred to, as I said in another public speech, after 
a visit to the Writers' Buildings is said to have remarked that 
it looked to him something like a Hindu Zamindar's Cutchery 
with a few European managers and some Muslim orderlies. 
The offices of the Calcutta University and the Calcutta Corpora- 
tion are said to present a similar spectacle, minus the European 
managers. Would it not be too much to expect that all these 
would be philanthropically parted with? On the other hand, 
those who have at last realised the grave mistake committed by 
their predecessors and are gradually becoming conscious of their 
legitimately due rights, are not likely to take the situation with 
philosophic equanimity. So if a fight after all becomes inevit- 
able, fight it by all means, but, for God's sake, fight it in a 
sportsmanlike spirit, without wantonly embittering feelings by 
empty threats and vain dangling of swords; fight just as two 
brothers fight in asserting their rights over their legitimate 
shares in the paternal property, but unhesitatingly unite when 
occasion arises, say when the joint property is encroached upon 
by a third party. 

My speech has already run a great length, and I am afraid 
I have trespassed too much upon your patience. I shall have 
therefore, to refrain from discussing in detail some other im- 
portant subjects I intended to discuss. Of the questions that are 
at present exercising the public mind, the dastardly criminality 
that has brought disgrace upon the province and the depressing 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 159 

unemployment that has dispirited our youths, require special 
consideration. 

Terrorism. The youths of a country, I need hardly say, 
are its greatest asset. History bears incontestible testimony to 
the fact that it was the impulsive youths who brought about 
most of the revolutions in human affairs in all ages and in all 
climes. Woe betide the country the youthful capacity and 
activity of which are misdirected and misused. To imbue the 
youths with patriotic feelings and to inspire them with lofty 
ideals is the highest duty that a lover of his country can set 
before him. Those who instil criminal ideas into young minds 
are the greatest enemies of the country and humanity. 

On the occasion of the last Russo-Japanese war, all the seven 
sons of a Japanese widow fell in battle. When her neighbours 
went to condole with her, they found her in tears. On their 
offering her consolation, she expressed great annoyance, and, to 
their surprise, told them that she was grieving not because she 
had lost all of her seven sons, but because she had not any 
other to sacrifice for her country. Who can check the progress 
of a nation, whose sons and daughters are animated by such a 
spirit ? It is this spirit of service and sacrifice that has made 
Japan, half a century ago a mere geographical expression, one 
of the greatest world-powers of the day. If such a spirit con- 
tinues, who knows that one day her ambition not only to 
dominate Asia but to encroach upon Europe, like the Huns of 
old, would not be fulfilled ? 

The splendid services that some of our young men and 
women have rendered in connection with flood, famine and pesti- 
lence, have given unmistakable indication of their having 
imbibed a laudable spirit of self-sacrifice. Those instrumental in 
creating it deserve our grateful thanks. On the other hand, no 
words can be strong enough for the condemnation of the mis- 
creants, who divert it to mischievous channels leading to 
disaster. It is high time that all available forces in the country 
were mobilised for putting down terrorism and purging the land 
of the miscreants, preaching justification of the means by the 
end, and inculcating the cult of the bomb and the revolver. 



l6o LIFE OF A. KARIM 

It is a matter of great gratification that Muslim youths have 
not succumbed to mischievous machinations and have kept their 
hands clean of blood that has stained other hands. In this 
connection I should not omit to say that I strongly deprecate 
the wholesale condemnation, indulged in in certain quarters, of 
a great community, whose Shastras, traditions, training and 
temperament militate against such . criminal acts, for the 
misdeeds of a few misguided wretches. If scores of them are 
guilty of bloody deeds, hundreds unhesitatingly risk their lives 
in hunting the criminals out and getting them punished. 

Unemployment. The unemployment problem, with its con- 
comitant disorder and distress, has assumed a magnitude 
unparalleled in the h : story of modern Bengal. Since the con- 
solidation of British administration in the Province, life and 
property have never been so insecure as at present. During the 
six months ending in June last, there were no less than 1,053 
cases of dacoity and 440 cases of murder in Bengal, and during 
the same period in the previous year 1,253 dacoities and 510 
murders were committed. What can be more horrible to think 
of than this ? Barring a few cases of what may be called 
political dacoities, all others were due to unemployment and 
economic distress prevailing in the country. What is most to be 
regretted is the participation of educated people in these atro- 
cious crimes. This deplorable state of things is due, to a large 
extent, to the futility of the education imparted in our educa- 
tional institutions. Those who, like me, had opportunities of 
closely studying the subject in its various aspects, must have 
been convinced that the system that was originally introduced 
mainly with a view to train clerks and other subordinate officers 
for the assistance of British administrators, has long outgrown 
its utility. A large number of those educated under that system, 
are not only unemployed but also unemployable. Young men 
who, in their childhood, were taught that "those who read and 
write, ride horses and carriages", find, to their utter disappoint- 
ment, that the education they have received leads instead to 
the path of penury and starvation. Having hardly any useful 
work to do and unable to maintain themselves by honest means, 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS l6l 

educated young men * betake themselves to mischievous ways. 
AvS long as the educated could be abr.orbed into the services for 
which they were intended, no one ever heard of dacoities and 
other heinous crimes having been committed by Bhadralogs. 
If over-production of graduates and under-graduates could be 
stopped and new avenues of employment could be created, the 
educated Bhadralogs, with the exception of the few victims of 
political exploitation, would, I have reason to believe, cease to 
commit such excesses as have brought indescribable disgrace and 
disaster to the people of Bengal. 

For a long time I have been persistently urging the revision 
of the course of studies prescribed for our educational institu- 
tions, so as to make those passing out of them fit to earn an 
honest living. Unless and until this is done and activities of 
the youths are diverted to useful channels, the unemployment 
problem will continue to baffle solution, and there will be no 
peace in the country. What is really wanted is not ready-made 
automatons who will fit into the fixed grooves of services under 
Government or commercio-industrial concerns, but enterprising 
and adventurous youths, spiritually strong, who may carve out 
new destinies and create fresh openings for themselves and 
others in independent walks of life. 

It is a matter of great regret that hundreds of our young men 
are going from door to door for employment, while many of our 
natural resources are lying untapped. Most of the industrial 
concerns in the country are in the hands of foreigners. Our 
Hindu brethren are gradually realising the necessity of moving 
in this direction, and resuscitating some of the dying indigenous 
industries, but the Muslims are still slumbering. Their suicidal 
indifference to the industrial regeneration of the country will, I 
need hardly say, immensely add to their impoverishment. I 
would appeal to our young men, in the name of all that is 
sacred, to emulate the glorious example of the Saracens of old 
in the field of trade, commerce, industry and science. 

System of Education. The present system of primary edu- 
cation which has been in operation for over half a century, has 
proved a failure. It has not proved suitable to the requirements 
II 



162 UFE OF A. KARIM 

of those for whom it was intended. It has not made the agricul- 
turists better agriculturists nor the artisans more proficient 
artisans. On the contrary, it has proved detrimental to the 
interests of the masses in as much as it has created in them a 
distaste for manual labour and for their hereditary callings and 
mode of living. They do not care to improve agriculture or 
handicrafts, anxious as they are to follow occupations of an 
unproductive nature, in imitation of Bhadralog. They hate to 
earn their livelihood by manual labour and know nothing else by 
which they can earn an honest living. Thus they are not only 
unemployed but also unemployable, and they help to accelerate 
rather than retard the decadence of indigenous arts and 
industries, and thereby aggravate the economic distress prevailing 
in the country. Does not all this unmistakably indicate the 
necessity of thorough reform ? It has to be borne in mind that 
the little education the masses receive in the beginning of life 
greatly influences them for good or for evil throughout their 
later career. In fact their aims, their aspirations, their 
mentality and their outlook of life, are all moulded and guided 
by what is instilled into their minds at the most impressionable 
stage of life. 

I wish I could give a better account of secondary education. 
The main purpose of its introduction was so well served that 
it may not be far from truth to say that it converted the 
intelligentsia of India into a race of quill-drivers. Our schools 
and colleges, while quite successful in turning out efficient tools 
for the administrative machinery, failed to produce men of 
light, of culture, of character, of business capacity and of bold 
initiative in different departments of human activity. If there 
still appears a Tagore or a Bose, it is not on account of the 
system, but in spite of it., Once a high European educationist 
truly remarked that the difference between schools in India and 
schools in England was as great as the difference between chalk 
and cheese. It is high time that a system of national educa- 
tion, suited to the taste and temperament, needs and aspirations 
of the people, were devised without further delay. On the one 
hand technical and vocational education, correlated to the 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 163 

avenues of employment open to the people, should be given, 
and on the other, high cultural education should be imparted 
to those who can afford it, so as to produce such citizens of 
light and leading as may be fit for progressive self-government. 
The future educational policy must aim at a large scale pro- 
duction not of graduates and under-graduates but of agricul- 
turists, industrialists and rural workers. If young men, 
nurtured on history, philosophy and political theories, are unable 
to find honourable channels for the employment of their talent, 
knowledge and energy, it is nothing unnatural that they should 
go astray in sheer desperation, starvation staring them in the 
face. 

Hardly any effective measure has been adopted to reform 
the educational system in the desired direction. Whenever 
there was any agitation for anything particular, conferences and 
committees were appointed, and these perhaps served more as 
eyewash than anything else. A dozen and one volumes of the 
most valuable report of the Sadler Commission, which was 
specially appointed for the reform of the Calcutta university, 
and b> acting upon the recommendations of which most of the 
other universities in India were appreciably benefited, have 
hardly done anything for Bengal, except adorning the archives 
of the Secretariat. The Report of the University Re-organisa- 
tion Committee has so far produced little practical effect on the 
affairs of the University. The Committee over which I,ord 
Lytton presided (I was one of its members from Assam) did 
nothing worth mentioning. The Primary Education Act is likely 
to be regarded merely as a document of historical interest. 
Nothing is known as regards the findings of the Deprovin- 
cialisation Committee. Nothing has been heard for about 
a year of the Advisory Committee for Muhammadan Edu- 
cation, which sat for about two years. After all this, what 
prospect can there be of the success of the latest "endeavour 
to find ways and means to remedy the existing deficiencies in 
the present system of university and secondary education in 
the Province? 1 ' As the matter has been discussed threadbare, 
the required reform might have been effected without further 



164 UFK OF A. KARIM 

enquiry by a committee of "educational experts". My impres- 
sion is that those wedded to stereotyped work and wanting in 
insight and initiative may not be competent to carry out the 
required reform. Men with broad outlook, wide experience and 
adequate imagination, such as Dr. Rabindranath Tagore, Sir P. 
C. Roy, Sir Ross Masud, are required for the purpose. Let us 
hope that the new constitution would usher in an era of 
educational progress, when the portfolio of education would 
come into the hands of such Ministers as would be able to devise 
a system of education well-suited to the requirements of the 
country. 

In Bengal who lives if peasants die ? Bengal, as I have 
already said, is pre-eminently an agricultural Province; over 80 
per cent, of its population are tillers of the soil, and con- 
sequently producers of the country's wealth. Anything happen- 
ing to this mainstay of the country vitally affects its whole 
population. Perhaps it needs no mention that the poverty of 
Bengal's peasantry has passed into a proverb. Internal and 
external exploitation seems to have been its chief cause. At 
present, when the price of all agricultural produce has gone 
down to a staggering point, they are passing through an 
economic crisis which beggars all description. Need I say that 
it behoves all concerned the rulers, the landlords, the capita- 
lists, the money-lenders, the professionals to come to their 
immediate relief. It is difficult to forecast what is going to 
happen if their distress is not forthwith alleviated. Here is a 
chance for those who call therr Delves the people's leaders, the 
peasants' well-wishers, to prove their claim by deeds and not 
by words. 

.... Co-operative banks, established on a large scale, with 
agriculturists as shareholders, under Government supervision, 
might greatly benefit the peasants and labourers. The price of 
jute having fallen so low as not to cover even the cost of pro- 
duction, the jute growers are now in great distress. Such a 
situation would not have arisen if the price of jute had been 
controlled and other effective measures taken in time, as 
suggested by the Jute Growers' Association, of which I am the 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 165 

President. Government's indifference in this matter is very 
muchfto be deplored. 

The appalling illiteracy, prevailing in the country, is a 
standing discredit to its administration. In all civilised countries 
most of the people are literate. In Japan the percentage of 
literates is 97, in the United States of America 96, in England 
93, in Germany 91, in Russia 76 among males and 63 among 
females. What do you think is the percentage of literates in 
this benighted country ? Hardly 5 per cent, in India as a whole 
and 10 per cent, in Bengal. The insignificant amount spent on 
education by the Indian Government could not have produced 
any other result. The expenditure for education per head 
amounts to Rs. 16 in America, Rs. 9 in England, Rs. 8 in Japan, 
but in India it is the magnificent sum of annas two. How 
could it be higher when the Military Budget exceeds sixty 
crores ? 

In all countries primary education has a greater importance 
than higher education. In India, where the upper and middle 
classes are numerically insignificant, its importance is far greater 
than elsewhere. The comparative backwardness of India in 
almost every sphere of human activity, may be traced to her 
illiteracy. It is because the masses are illiterate that they are 
swayed by superstition and prejudice, know little of sanitation 
and hygiene and are carried off by thousands every year by 
cholera, malaria and other preventible diseases, have to depend 
upon the freaks of nature for the success or failure of their 
crops, fall victims to the mischievous machinations of political 
self-seekers and religious fanatics, who exploit them whenever 
it suits their purpose. Unless and until illiteracy is wiped out 
from the land, there can be little progress, social, economic or 
political. It is education, and nothing but education, that can 
remove social evils, sanitary troubles and economic distress from 
the country, and can awaken political consciousness and create 
solidarity in the people. Self-government without literacy would 
be nothing but a farce, and might possibly be a tragedy. 

It is to be extremely regretted that the Primary Education 
Act, which was passed with so much ado three years ago, 



1 66 UFE OF A. KARIM 

has not yet been given effect to, and it is not known when it 
will come into operation. If on account of economic deprdtesion, 
levy of an educational cess was undesirable, the Government 
might have temporarily, if not permanently, introduced the long- 
overdue free compulsory education into the province by meeting 
the necessary expenditure out of its provincial revenues, making 
retrenchment, if necessary, in other less important directions. 
The responsibility of a civilised government in making the 
people literate cannot be over-stressed. To regard expenditure 
for this purpose as one of the first charges upon a country's 
revenues, would be certainly an act of wisdom. In this connec- 
tion I should not omit to mention that the indigenous and 
inexpensive education in vogue before, was more suited to the 
social and economic conditions of the people. Its replacement 
by an exotic system, which prefers book education to nature 
study, insists on reading more than on thinking, fosters an 
artificial taste for unnecessary things and costs much more than 
poor people can afford to bear, has made education rather un- 
popular with the masses. I need hardly say that a thorough 
over-hauling of the system in order to make it natural, simple, 
inexpensive, modern, but true to India's genius and suited to 
the requirements of the masses is urgently necessary. Such a 
system of primary education must be made universal, free and 
compulsory, simultaneously with the inauguration of responsible 
self-government, if not before. 

OPINIONS ON THE ABOVE SPEECH. 

8/1, Harsi Street, 
Calcutt, 6th December, 1933. 

DEAR DR. AHMED, 

I am very thankful to you for kindly sending me a copy 
of the Presidential speech of Maulvi Abdul Karim Saheb. I 
read a part of the speech in the papers* and was longing for a 
copy of the entire speech. I have now read the whole of it and 
I am tempted to say that it is an epoch-making speech fit to be 



PRESIDENT OF ASSOCIATIONS AND MEETINGS 167 

preserved in letters of gold in every Hindu and every Moslem 
household. With thanks again, 

Yours sincerely, 

M. N. MTJKHERJEE, 

Judge, Calcutta High Court). 



College of Science, 
Calcutta, 10-2-34. 

DEAR MR. ABDUL KARIM, * 

I have been reading, marking and digesting your admirable 
address and am quoting at length from it in my 2nd volume of 
"My L/ife and Experiences . I look upon you as the nestor 
of the cultured Moslem community. Every line of your address 
breeds lofty patriotism and is singularly free from the tint of 
communalism. To quote your own words : You are not a 
Government-made leader but that is your highest claim to 
gratitude of us all. May you live long and continue to preach 
the gospel of United Bengal in which the Hindu and the Moslem 
should have absolute equality of status. 

Yours sincerely, 

P. C. ROY, 
(SiR P. C. ROY, KT., C.I.E.). 



2, Chandra Chatterjee Street, Calcutta, 
6th December, 1933. 

MY DEAR MUI,VI SAHEB, 

I am indeed greatly gratified for having been favoured with 
a copy of your excellent and rousing speech. I read a sketch 
of it in the "Statesman" before and admired the same, but the 
full speech is really a glorious study. I wish it were translated 
for the use of our largely misguided countrymen, who greatly 



l68 TJFE OF A. KARIM 

need such plain-speaking in no uncertain language. Pages 7 to 
10 and pages 18 to 20 have made a particularly deep impression 
on my mind how boldly and effectively a genuine leader and an 
esteemed son of Bengal has spoken out his mind. You have by 
your speech fully maintained the traditions of your life, culture 
and experience for which you are so much respected by both the 
communities. May God spare you a long time yet to serve our 
dear motherland with your courage and foresight 

With kindest regards and best thanks, 
I am yours verv sincerely, 

SURENDRA NATH MAUJK (C.I.E.), 
(Late Member of the Council of the 

Secretary of State for India). 



23rd December, 1933. 
Calcutta, 

MY DEAR MR. KARIM, 

Thanks for your kind letter. I not only received your 
speech but read it with interest and appreciate. Speeches like 
yours lead me to hope that some day there may be an end of 
the present unfortunate situation for which my community is 
as much to blame as yours. Best regards, 

Yours sincerely, 
N. N. SIRCAR, 

(Advocate General, Bengal. At present 
Law Member, Viceregal Council). 



CHAPTER IX. 
SOME LETTERS. 

Whenever there was public discussion regarding 
anything important Maulavi Abdul Karim took a conspi- 
cuous part in it. It will require a large volume to publish 
all the letters he wrote on various subjects to newspapers 
and individuals. As a few pages can be spared, only 
some select letters are being printed for the present. These 
will give some idea as to what kind of letters were written 
by M. Abdul Karim. In December, 1916, he was requested 
by the late Mr. Gourlay, then Private Secretary to the 
Governor of Bengal, to write a short history of the Muslim 
rule in Bengal for the use of Lord Chelmsford when he 
would come to Bengal, and he wrote the required history, 
which was presented to Lord Chelmsford. He then wrote 
some long letters to the late Mr. E. S. Montague on 
constitutional reforms. Some of these were sent direct 
and some through the Governmtnt of Bengal. He was 
informed that these would be taken into considration by 
the Viceroy and the Secretary of State. 

When the Montague-Chelmsford Scheme was under 
consideration the following letter of Maulavi Abdul Karim 
was published in the Statesman : 

SIR, In a letter that I have addressed in my capacity as a 
Vice-President of the Bengal Presidency Muslim League to the 
Secretary of the League, to be placed before the meeting to be 
held to-morrow to consider the Reform Scheme I have written 
as follows : 

"As for acceptance or rejection of the scheme, the question, 
to iny mind, does not arise at all. We have to deal with a report 



1 70 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

in which certain proposals have been made not for acceptance 
or rejection but for criticism and discussion. The framers of the 
Scheme were not authorised to offer any Scheme for acceptance 
or rejection by the people of India. They were instructed to 
survey the situation, to collect information, to weigh opinions 
and to formulate proposals. This they have done, and criticism 
and discussion have been invited. When the Scheme will be 
embodied in an Act and the question of its being put into opera- 
tion will arise, then will be the time for acceptance or 
rejection 

The Scheme has to be carefully perused and thoroughly diges- 
ted. The difficulty of getting a thorough grasp of such an inimit- 
ably written document, which traverses a wide area and covers a 
long period, must not be lost sight of. From what I have been 
able to gather by going through it once I have no hesitation in 
saying that the Scheme deserves most serious consideration. 
Called upon to deal with one of the most complicated problems 
that any statesman had ever to face in any country, the framers of 
the scheme, to my mind, have acquitted themselves \\ith excep- 
tionable ability and praiseworthy earnestness. How difficult it is 
to draw up a cautious and at the same time a liberal scheme can 
be realised only by those who had the misfortune of being placed 
in such an unenviable position. I think the Scheme, on the 
whole, has been conceived in a spirit of genuine sympathy with 
India's political aspirations, and an honest attempt has been 
made to grapple with the present political situation in India by 
reconciling diversities of views and interests. The Scheme is a 
decided improvement on the existing state of things and it marks 
a definite advance in the system of administration, calculated to 
lead by stages if properly worked out, to the realisation of the 
ideal of responsible government in India. In my humble opinion 
it deserves a calm and considerate handling. 

That the Scheme falls short of the aspirations of the people 
and is not adequate to meet the present situation in India there 
can be no denying. That it requires substantial modifications 
and expansions in some important respects cannot be gainsaid. 
That some of the restrictions and limitations imposed as safe- 



SOME LETTERS I 7 I 

guards through excessive caution, require to be removed or re- 
laxed must be admitted. But all this cannot be achieved by 
obstructive agitation or destructive criticism. The Scheme will 
have to be modified through calm and careful discussion and con- 
siderate and constructive criticism. Strong and earnest public 
opinion cannot fail to produce the desired effect. I would, there- 
fore, strongly urge the concentration of all attention and energies 
for getting the required modifications and I would propose the 
appointment of a strong committee of the League for this pur- 
pose. It is hoped the committees which will have to deter- 
mine the powers to be transferred from the Government of India 
to the Provicial Governments and from the Provincial Executives 
to the Indian Ministers and will have to settle the electorates and 
the proportion of elected members, will be formed without further 
delay." Yours, etc., 

Ranchi, Aug. 3. ABDUL KARIM. 

While the Round Table Conference was sitting 
Maulavi Abdul Karim wrote the following letter to the 
late Sir Syed AH Imam, one of the delegates from Bihar : 

Calcutta, the 23rd September, 1931. 
DEAR SIR An IMAM, 

I hope to be excused for the liberty I am taking of intruding 
upon you when you must be very busy with the work of the 
Round Table Conference. Had not the Muslims of Bengal been 
vitally interested in what I am writing, I would not have troubled 
you. You must have noticed that the Muslim delegation from 
Bengal is not only most inadequate but also very weak. One 
of the delegates is committed to separate electorate, upon which 
perhaps his political existence depends, and the other practically 
has no opinion of his own and may be gained over by any party. 
In these circumstances may I hope that you will kindly do all 
that may be possible for safeguarding the interests of your co- 
religionists in Bengal? 



172 UFE OF A. KARIM 

I am enclosing herein copies of three letters which I wrote 
regarding the requirements of the Muslims of Bengal. I shall 
be much obliged if you kindly spare a little time to go thro v ugh 
them. The circumstances of Bengal being different from those of 
other provinces, the case of the Bengal Muslims requires special 
consideration. The I^ucknow pact, as you are aware, did great 
injustice to the Muslims of Bengal. They will have to suffer 
grievously if they are again relegated to the position of minority 
in spite of their majority in the province. Will you kindly exert 
your influence to prevent a recurrence of such injustice ? It is 
not unlikely that the Muslim delegates from Bengal will agree to 
sacrifice our majority in the legislature for the sake of separate 
electorate 

The next important thing is to get the number of Muslim 
voters raised to their proportion in the population by lowering 
the franchise qualification. Adult franchise, if given to females 
also, will, however, prove injurious to the Muslim cause, as 
few Muslim females will attend the polling booths. If 
universal adult franchise is sanctioned, special facilities for 
recording female votes, such as recording by proxy or at home, 
should be arranged, otherwise few Muslim female votes will be 
recorded. I hope you will kindly bear this in mind when the 
franchise question will be discussed. 

The electorate question in Bengal requires serious considera- 
tion. In other provinces separate electorate might not be so 
injurious to the Muslim cause as in Bengal, which contains about 
one-third of the total Muslim population of India and double of 
that of the Punjab. About 90 per cent of the Bengal Muslims 
being cultivators, their interests in fact constitute the interests of 
the community. The liberation of the cultivating class (both 
Hindu and Muslim) from the economic bondage of the landlords 
cannot be achieved unless and until the Hindu and Muslim 
masses, who have been divided into watertight compartments 
by separate electorate, are able to join their forces in a common 
electorate. Thus from the point of view of the masses, who form 
80 per cent of Bengal's population, the case for joint electorate 
is overwhelming. It is to be regretted that the Muslim landlords 



SOME LETTERS 173 

of Bengal have been trying their utmost to perpetuate the system 
of separate electorate. By exploiting the cultivators, who form 
an overwhelming majority of the electors, they get themselves 
elected to the Council. All the Indian members of the Bengal 
cabinet, two Executive Councillors and three Ministers, come 
from the landowning class, whose interests, as a rule, are opposed 
to the interests of the cultivating class. Even most of the 
Swarajist members, who are landlords or their agents, do not 
hesitate to sacrifice the interests of the cultivators. Party division 
in the Councils, unless based on class interest, will be most detri- 
mental to the interests of the masses, and will thus be a negation 
of democracy. Any division on the basis of religion, being the 
creation of interested persons, will retard the progress of the 
country as well as of the community. 

Separate electorate has had its trial for a long time. Has 
it really benefited the Muslim community ? Has it enabled the 
Muslims to organise themselves ? Have they returned the right 
type of representatives to the Councils ? I am afraid the answers 
of these queries will have to be given in the negative. On the 
contrary, dependence on artificial props has engendered a false 
sense of security and has thus retarded the growth of self- 
reliance and political organisation. Besides, separate electorate, 
in the words of the Simon Report, has proved "an obstacle in the 
way of the growth of a sense of common citizenship. " The only 
people it has benefited are the opportunists and job-hunters, 
who have exploited the Bengal masses for their selfish ends. As 
long as this system of electorate will continue there can be no 
chance for Hindu and Muslim masses to better their con- 
dition. In these circumstances it is most desirable that every 
possible effort should be made to get joint electorate introduced 
in Bengal, if not permanently, at least for two terms, so that 
it may be seen how it works. Separate electorate, though tried 
for a long time, has not produced the desired result. I^et joint 
electorate have a trial for some tim^ 

As for reservation of seats, I wrote at some length about it in 
the letter/ a typed copy of which is enclosed. For reasons stated 
therein it is desirable, in the interests of both the Hindus and 



174 UFE OF A. KARIM 

the Muslims of Bengal, that seats should be reserved for both the 
communities until there is a change in the circumstances that 
make such reservation necessary. In conclusion, I would request 
you to do all that is possible for raising the number of the Muslim 
electorate by lowering the franchise qualification, and for the 
reservation of seats on a population basis for some time. 

Maulavi Abdul Karim wrote the following letter on 
intercommunal amity : 

"It is with supreme pleasure that I have perused your article 
entitled "The Bakr-Id", couched in laudable tone and terms, 
published in to-day's issue of the "Atnnta Bazar Patrika". What 
a happy day it would have been for India if, writings such as this 
were the rule and not an exception. I sincerely wish all the 
Hindu and the Muslim journals will imitate the praiseworthy 
spirit which underlies the article under reference. 

Nothing can be a greater travesty of truth than to say that 
Islam is an intolerant religion propagated by force "with the 
Quran in one hand and the sword in the other". Islam, which 
enjoins complete surrender to God's will, is a religion of peace. 
Its message to humanity is the unity of God and the equality of 
man. Its most distinctive feature is universality ; nowhere in 
its scripture, the Quran, has it been said that God is Rabbul 
Muslimeen, Lord of the Muslims; everywhere He has been des- 
cribed as Rabbul Alamin, Lord of the created worlds. 

History bears incontestable testimony to the fact that Islam 
was spread by preaching and persuasion, its simplicity, its sub- 
limity, and its practicability having made the most effective 
appeal to all classes of people, who had occasion to come in 
contact with it. Mahatma Gandhi very truly observed on one 
occasion, "It was not the sword that won a place for Islam in the 
scheme of life/' The Muslims might have wiped Judaism and 
Christianity out of Arabia, Syria, Spain and many other countries, 
if they had recourse to forcible conversion. Had Islam been 
propagated in India by the sword, there would have been few 
non-Muslims left in the land, particularly in the neighbaurhood 
of the seats of Muslim Government. But where do Muslims pre- 
ponderate in India? Not in Delhi, or in Agra, or in I v ucknow, 



SOME LETTERS 175 

where an overwhelming majority of the population still continues 
to be non-Muslims in spite of seven hundred years of Muslim 
rule, but in Sylhet, in Chittagong, in Noakhali, far away from 
the capital cities, where saints and sages, like Shah Jalal, spread 
Islam by the use of the tongue, not by the use of the sword, 
by preaching, persuasion and personal example, not by force, 
compulsion or coercion. 

Accustomed, as I have been, to an atmosphere, in which inter- 
communal unity and cordiality were hardly ever disturbed and 
social amenities between the Hindus and the Muslims were of 
constant occurrence, it pains me much to see that, at this critical 
stage of the history of the country, when peace and good-will are 
so very essential, some short-sighted members of both the com- 
munities, influenced by the machinations of designing intriguers 
and unscrupulous fanatics, have adopted the suicidal policy of fan- 
ning the flame of communal jealousy and enmity, thus affording 
an opportunity for the further lightening of the chains of bondage, 
with which they are knit together. Slaves fighting amongst them- 
selves for imaginary wrongs or doubtful rights must be a most 
uiiedifying spectacle for the world's free on-lookers to witness. 
What is most strange is that all this is generally done in the 
name of religion, which, to my mind, is the greatest humanising 
and harmonising force in the world. Promotion of toleration 
and fellow-feeling among God's creatures is the message both 
of the Quran and the Vedas. Yet some members of both the 
communities, forgetting the injunctions of their respective scrip- 
tures, frantically quarrel over trifling matters, in which no car- 
dinal principle of any religion is really involved. What can be 
more regrettable than this ? I need hardly say that if the present 
intercommunial tension continues, it would be futile to talk of 
political or economic advancement or of national and social re- 
generation 

I hope and trust good sense will prevail at last, and far- 
sighted members of both the communities, realising the extreme 
gravity of the situation, will exert themselves to bring about 
a lasting reconciliation. I would appeal, with all the earnestness 
I can command, to all thoughtful members of both the commu- 



I7& LIFE OF A. KARIM 

nities to bestir themselves betimes to clear the atmosphere of 
all suspicion and distrust. It has to be realised that Providence 
has cast our lot in one common motherland, and we have to live 
and die side by side in this great land of our birth. 

When Maulavi Abdul Karim was invited to give 
evidence before the Hartog Committee he made the follow- 
ing statement in the form of a memorandum and issued 
it to the press : 

The responsibility of a civilised government in making the 
people literate cannot be over-stated. Expenditure for this pur- 
pose should on no account be stinted. In fact it ought to be 
regarded as one of the first charges upon its revenues. It is 
satisfactory to note that the Bengal Government seems to have 
at last awakened to its responsibility in the matter of primary 
education in the Province. It has been admitted that "the 
present system is inadequate, the teaching is inefficient and the 
distribution of schools unsystematic, the teachers are under-paid 
and a large number of pupils who attend primary schools leave 
the schools before having received the most elementary instruc- 
tion and consequently lapse into illiteracy." It has also been 
admitted that Bengal's contribution for primary education has 
been hopelessly small and it compares very unfavourably with 
that of other Provinces. While Bengal contributes for primary 
education only 1-6 per cerit. of her total Provincial revenues, 
Bombay contributes 6 per cent., Bihar and Orissa contributes 51 
per cent., and the Punjab contributes 3-6 per cent., for the same 
purpose. Besides, unlike other provinces, education is top-heavy 
in this province, a disproportionately large amount being spent 
on Secondary and University education at the cost of Primary 
education. It is hoped that all this would be taken into most 
serious Consideration and universal primary education would be 
introduced in Bengal without further delay. 

The system of primary education that has been in operation 
for over half a century, has not proved suitable for the 
requirements of those for whom it is primarily intended. It haj 
not improved either the knowledge or the condition of the rural 
population; it has not made the cultivators better cultivators, 



SOME LETTERS 177 

nor the artisans more efficient artisans. On the contrary, it has 
proved detrimental to their interests inasmuch as it has 
created in them a distaste for manual labour and for their 
hereditary callings and mode of living. They do not care to 
improve agriculture or handicrafts, anxious as they are to follow 
occupations of an unproductive nature in imitation of the middle 
class people. They hate to earn their livelihood by manual 
labour and know nothing else by which they can make an 
honest living. They are thus not only unemployed but also 
unemployable and they accelerate rather than retard the deca- 
dence of indigenous arts and industries and help to aggravate 
the economic crisis prevailing in the country. This is the reason 
why in some places people, far from supporting the local school, 
desire its abolition. 

It is essentially necessary that pupils of rural schools should 
develop a genuine attachment to their simple mode of living 
and family craft, and it should be seen that nothing in their 
school-life, nothing in their text-books creates in their mind a 
longing for -a luxurious mode of living or a dislike for the 
humble calling of their forefathers. 

Various things have to be taken into careful consideration 
in this connection. What is essentially required by the Indian 
masses is a thorough grounding in the three R's. Illiteracy in 
this country is not always synonymous with ignorance. The 
masses, though illiterate, generally possess the requisite know- 
ledge of affairs pertaining to their sphere of life and they are 
perhaps morally and spiritually more advanced than the masses 
in other countries. 

The educative value of a good school building and decent 
furniture can hardly be over-estimated. But too much stress 
should not be laid on these as necessary funds for their provision 
are wanting. The people will benefit more by the spread of 
literacy acquired under the tree during the dry season and 
within huts in the rains than by a smaller number of boys 
reading in imposing buildings. If the right instruction is 
imparte4 it would not matter much whether pupils squat under 
a peepul tree or sit in a marble hall. Until other and more 

12 



OF A. KARIM 



essential requirements are supplied and sufficient funds for con- 
struction of school buildings are available, mosques, thakur- 
ghars and out-houses might be utilised for the accommodation of 
Maktabs and Patshalas. The erection of a school house should not 
always be made a condition precedent to the opening of a 
primary school. 

The Department will make out a case for a large inspecting 
staff who will eat up a big slice of the Education Fund. My 
intention in dilating on this aspect is to emphasise the point 
that primary education can be made free at a smaller cost if it 
is carried on, more or less, on primitive lines without unnecessary 
intervention of experts of Government, who very often are more 
embarrassing than helpful. Primary education even now at 
places is imparted to the boys under a banyan tree by a teacher 
who lives on the meagre doles of paddy and other crops from 
the villagers. But now we must have expensive school buildings 
on typed plans and the teachers must be trained gurus. Did the 
great Vidyasagar go through a guru-training course? The less 
western or foreign innovations are made in primary education in 
India the smoother will be its progress." 

The most important factor in any scheme of education is 
the teacher. Unwilling and inefficient teachers have retarded 
the progress of education in this country. Nothing should, there- 
fore, be left undone to improve their capacity and to better their 
prospects. Every step should be taken to train the required 
number of teachers as soon as possible. Until a sufficient 
number of trained teachers is available, services of Gurus and 
Mianjis with the requisite academic attainments should be 
utilised. Establishment of schools, where necessary, should not 
await the supply of trained teachers. The quality of the instruc- 
tion imparted by untrained teachers might not be quite up to 
the mark, but some education would be better than no educa- 
tion. It was untrained teachers, judiciorisly selected, who so 
long spread education in the country. 

Cost of Primary Education. In all civilised countries educa- 
tion of the people is considered as one of the most important 
duties of Government and expenditure for this purpose is never 



SOME LETTERS 179 

stinted. Unfortunately in India the Government has been 
lamentably late in realising its responsibility in this respect. Tt 
is a matter of regret that even now Government is not inclined 
to contribute liberally for the education of the people. In the 
Bengal Primary Education Bill, now before the Council, no 
indication has been given as to what portion of the necessary 
cost Government is prepared to bear. On the other hand, it 
has been proposed to heavily tax the people, who are proverbially 
poor. 

This has naturally called forth vigorous protest from different 
quarters. There is an unanimity of opinion that the Govern- 
ment should contribute a fair share, say at least half, of the 
cost of primary education in the Province and an express 
provision to this effect should be inserted in the Bill. Unless 
the statutory obligation on the State to contribute a definite 
share of the cost is expressly recognised, there is likely to be 
a good deal of agitation regarding the proposed cess. Another 
point regarding which an almost unanimous opinion has been 
expressed by those who were consulted in the matter, is that 
indirect taxation should be preferred to direct taxation. I think 
it is most desirable that all avenues of indirect taxation should 
be thoroughly explored. Various suggestions have been made 
as regards taxing tea, sugar, cigar and cigarettes, piece goods 
.and such other things as are considered more or less as luxuries 
and not necessaries. It is believed that people would not object 
even to the raising of the salt tax. In 1922-23, 151 lakh 
maunds of salt were consumed in Bengal and a revenue of 
184 lakhs was raised. Raising of the excise duty for meeting 
the cost of Primary education has also been suggested. I think 
the Railway Board might be induced to agree to the addition 
of one pice per rupee on all railway tickets issued at Howrah, 
Sealdah and other railway stations in Bengal. This may yield 
a substantial amount which may be ear-marked for primary 
education. Much stress has been laid on moving the Govern- 
ment of India to give back to Bengal the export duty on jute 
which is grown only in Bengal by the peasants for whose educa- 
tion money is required. Imposition of a surcharge on jute with 



l8o IJFE OF A. KARIM 

the sanction of the Government of India has also been suggested. 
If more than three crores of rupees can be had from the duty 
on jute, primary education can be made free and compulsory in 
Bengal without further delay. 

Exclusion of Urban Areas. Exclusion of urban areas from 
the scope of the Bill is not desirable. The question of primary 
education should be considered as a whole for the entire province. 
There might be differences in the curriculum for different areas 
and denominations, but there should be one uniform law for 
the whole province. The Bengal Primary Education Act of 1919 
seems to have become inoperative for want of funds. Besides, 
few of the municipalities have shown any enthusiasm for pri- 
mary education. As many of the municipalities are merely 
overgrown villages with a large rustic population, injustice 
would be done to people living in these areas if they are not 
brought within the range of the Bill. 

The proposed District School Board has been the subject of 
much adverse criticism by the public. It is said to have been 
too much officialised without sufficient reason and vested with 
more powers than what is possessed by similar bodies in other 
countries. For the success of a new scheme, like the one under 
consideration, sufficient popular support is essential. It is desir- 
able, therefore, that the responsibility of introducing free and 
compulsory primary education should be placed upon such bodies 
as might command public confidence. The formation of the 
Board, as proposed, smacks too much of official tutelage, which 
is resented now-a-days. As a rule the representatives of those 
who are vitally interested and of those who have to pay the 
cess will not be on it. Nor will the educational experts, with 
the exception of the District Inspector of Schools, non-official 
educationists and teachers of primary schools have anything to- 
do with it. Besides, the proposed Board would be rather un- 
wieldy and a large amount might have to be spent in paying 
travelling allowances. It is a matter for consideration if a 
Central Board for the whole Province should be constituted on 
a popular basis with representatives of various interests and 
vested with general powers of supervision and of laying down 



SOME I,KTTBRS l8l 

principles for the co-ordination of primary education through- 
out the province. The Education Committees of the District 
Boards, which are permitted to co-opt educational experts and 
which have been controlling, for some time, not only primary 
but also a portion of secondary education in the districts, might 
then, under the guidance of the Central Board, do the work that 
is proposed to be done by the District School Boards. 

The question of Inspectorate requires careful consideration. 
It should be seen if something can be done to curtail the quantity 
and improve the quality of inspection. Can the work be par- 
tially entrusted to an honorary agency? As in some other 
Departments should some honorary inspectors be given a trial 
in J:he Education Department ? In the inspection of primary 
schools assistance of educated members of District and Union 
Boards and of teachers of higher schools might be requisitioned 
and in the case of Middle and even of High English Schools 
private educationists and distinguished teachers might be invited 
to help the Inspectors and District Inspectors of Schools. This 
may reduce the expenditure without affecting efficiency. Any 
saving thus effected might be profitably utilised in increasing 
the pay of the poorly-paid teachers. 

When there was a controversy regarding what Sir 
Abdul Karim Ghuznavi and the late Mr. Mahmud 
Suhrawardy stated before the Hartog Committee in 
December, 1928, Maulavi Abdul Karim wrote the following 
letter to the newspapers: 

"The statement published by the Hon'ble Mr. M. Suhrawardy, 
regarding the medium of instruction for Muslim boys in Bengal, 
is so full of mis-statements of facts that, in the interest of the 
community, it should not go unchallenged. I should state at 
the outset that it is not a fact that the "consensus of Muslim 
opinion in Bengal is, that Urdu should be the medium of instruc- 
tion". Mr. Suhrawardy, I am afraid, had little opportunity to 
know Muslim public opinion and it is therefore no wonder, that 
he should betray lamentable ignorance of the real requirements 
of the community. I think "The Mussalman" is quite right in 



182 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

saying that "if Mr. Suhrawardy takes a plebiscite on this ques- 
tion and seeks re-election on this issue, he will at once realise 
how he misrepresents Muslim opinion of West Bengal in this- 
connection. 

It is ridiculous to question Sir Abdul Kerim Ghuznavi's 
authority in a matter like this. Being in intimate touch with his 
co-religionists all over Eastern and Northern Bengal, if not in the 
whole Province, he is perhaps in a better position than otfiers 
to express an authoritative opinion regarding this important 
matter concerning the vital interests of the community. Although 
I do not see eye to eye with him in certain political matters, I 
am in entire agreement with him, in what he stated regarding 
the medium of instruction for Muslim children in Bengal and 
also with his views regarding the education of Bengal Muslims, 
expressed before the Hartog Committee. 

It is an admitted fact, that the mother tongue of 95 per cent 
of Bengal Mussalmans (I shall not be surprised if the percentage 
is found to be as high as 99) is Bengali. Both the classes and 
the masses use the Bengali language not only in their conversa- 
tion, but also in their correspondence, records, accounts, docu- 
ments etc. Besides the city of Calcutta, where Mussalmans from 
different parts of India and Muslim countries outside India have 
congregated together, it is only in a few towns, such as Mur- 
shidabad and Dacca, where perhaps the majority of Mussalmans. 
speak a kind of Urdu. I am not certain that there are even a 
score of Mussalmans, born and bred in Bengal, who can speak 
idiomatic Urdu. Even some of those who are very loud in their 
advocacy of Urdu, cannot open their lips without breaking simple 
rules of Urdu grammar. Not that Bengal Mussalmans have not 
the capacity to master the Urdu language, but they do not care 
to learn it as it is hardly of any use in their everyday affairs. 
Even the Mussalmans of Sharifabad in West Bengal, which is 
known as a stronghold of Muslim idiosyncracy in Bengal, use 
Bengali in their conversation and correspondence. There are 
thousands of Mussalmans in Bengal, who do not understand a 
word of literary Urdu. Such being the case, the question to be 
considered is whether Bengali, which is the mother tongue of the 



SOME LETTERS 183 

Mussalmans of Bengal, or Urdu, which is practically a foreign 
language to them, should be the medium of instruction for their 
children. I am far from under-estimating the value of Urdu as 
the lingua franca of India. The Mussalmans of those Provinces, 
where it is not their mother tongue, should learn it for communi- 
cation and interchange of thoughts with their co-religionists all 
over India. But it can on no account be adopted as the medium 
of instruction for their children in preference to their mother 
tongue. It is not worth while refuting the view held by some 
people, who regard themselves aristocratic, that Bengali is not 
the language of respectable Mussalman society. It is nothing but 
preposterous to say that a language, in which their mothers and 
sisters converse, is not the language of respectable people. 

The cultural growth of Mussalmans of Bengal, has been much 
retarded, for not using the mother tongue in the education of 
their children. I need hardly say that it is most unsound and 
unscientific to impart instruction to a child through the medium 
of a language other than his mother tongue. A child's early 
education should invariably be given through the language which 
he learns with his mother's milk. It is impossible to convey to 
a child a thorough knowledge of a subject and to impress it upon 
his mind through a language, in which he is not fairly grounded. 
Perhaps there is no other civilised country in the world, where 
children get their education through the medium of a language 
that is not their mother tongue. If any community has a reason- 
able predilection for any particular language, as some of the 
Mussalmans of Bengal have for Urdu, they should first make it 
the language of the home before making it the language of the 
school. 

The Mussalmans of Bengal have suffered a great deal, for 
neglecting the vernacular of the Province. Many of the Mussalman 
Zemindars of Eastern Bengal and perhaps also of other parts of 
the Province, have grievously suffered at the hands of their Amlas 
for not learning Bengali, in which their records and accounts 
are kept. The Bengal Mussalmans have not been able to contri- 
bute, as others have done, anything worth mentioning to science, 
literature and other arts. They have not got amongst them great 



1 84 UFE OF A. KARIM 

thinkers or great writers or great workers. They cannot put 
forward even one from among them equal to a Hali or a Shibli 
or an Iqbal, not to speak of a Syed Ahmed or a Salar Jung. They 
have not produced a Bidyasagar, a P. C. Roy, an Ashutosh 
Mukherjee, not to mention outstanding personalities like Ram 
Mohan Roy, Rabindra Nath Tagore or J. C. Bose. Does not this 
unmistakably indicate deplorable intellectual poverty? Is this 
due to the inferiority of the Mussalmans of Bengal, in intellectual 
capacity and aptitude for the acquisition of knowledge, to their 
co-religionists in other parts of India, or to their neighbours, the 
Hindus of Bengal? I am not prepared to give to this query an 
answer in the affirmative. Given equal facilities for study and 
training, the Mussalmans of Bengal, I think, are well able to hold 
their own with the Mussalmans of other places and with the 
Hindus of this Province. How then is their intellectual deteriora- 
tion to be accounted for? This is a question that should engage 
the most serious consideration of everyone interested in the wel- 
fare of the community. It is the cultural advancement of a com- 
munity upon which depend, to a great extent, their moral pro- 
gress and material prosperity. 

The "Mussalman" commented on the above letter as 

follows ; 

We are glad to note that Moulvi Abdul Karim who grew grey 
in the educational service of the province and who, as an inspect- 
ing officer, being in intimate touch with all sorts of schools has 
had a correct idea of the educational needs and requirements of 
the Mussalmans, has in a statement to the press given a crushing 
reply to the ipse dixit of Mr. Suhrawardy and others of his ilk. 
We need not repeat the arguments that the Moulvi Saheb has put 
forward in favour of Bengalee being the medium of instruction. 
He has said almost all that one has got to say in favour of a 
boy's or a girl's mother tongue being the medium of his or her 
instruction 

The statement that Moulvi Abdul Karim has issued has 
been very opportune as it reflects the opinion of the whole of 
Muslim Bengal with the exception, of course, of a microscopic 
minority who, we are afraid, do not or would not understand the 



SOME LETTERS 185 

interests of their own community, in connexion with a matter of 
such vital importance." 

Maulavi Abdul Karim issued to the Press the following 
statement regarding the "Bande Mataram" song : 

It is with much regret that I have read the letters published 
to-day by Messrs. B. C. Chatterjee and Ramani Mohan Chatterjee 
regarding the recitation of Bande Mataram song at the ensuing 
session of the Indian National Congress. As for the present I 
have been keeping aloof from Bengal politics, I need feel no 
hesitation in speaking out what I feel regarding the unfortunate 
controversy about this matter. 

It was a coincidence that some time ago after a careful perusal 
of the Bade Mataram song just when I was going to write to 
the Press that there could be no objection to the singing of the 
first two stanzas of the song, my attention was drawn to the 
decision of the Congress. 

It is extremely to be regretted that neither the Bengal Mus- 
lims nor the Bengal Hindus have taken this decision in the spirit 
in which it ought to have been taken. This tends to show that 
as a whole neither community, whatever they may outwardly say, 
is really willing to come to an amicable settlement regarding 
political problems concerning Bengal. 

It is most regrettable that while on the one hand the Bengal 
Muslims object to the singing of even the first two stanzas, the 
Bengal Hindus insist upon singing all the stanzas. If the first 
two stanzas do not contain anything objectionable what does it 
matter under what circumstances the song was composed and 
by whom it was composed ? How many people know when and 
by whom the song was composed? It is its tone and terms that 
matter and have to be taken into consideration. 

As for the subsequent stanzas, I cannot persuade myself to 
believe that the Bengal Hindus do not know how very objection- 
able all idolatrous ideas are to the orthodox Muslims of Bengal 
and how very unwilling they must be to tolerate writings in which 
Hindu .gods and goddesses such as Durga and Saraswati, find 
a place. The Congress, which is for all communities, must have 
taken into careful consideration all these aspects of the question 



1 86 UFE OF A. KARIM 



in coming to a decision. I do not think there could have been 
a better solution. I hope the decision of the Congress will be 
adhered to and in order to conciliate Muslim feelings Iqbal's 
"Hindustan Hamara" will be also sung on all occasions on which 
Hindus and Muslims combine. 

In August, 1935, an "Open Letter was written by 
M. Abdul Karim to the Duce Mussolini of Italy on the 
Abyssinian crisis and it was published in the newspapers. 
The Emperor of Abyssinia wrote to M. Abdul Karim 
thanking him for writing the letter. The letter is given 
below. 

"A note of protest from an unknown person of a far-off 
country may cause surprise and even resentment to one aiming 
at world-dictatorship. As, however, trifling incidents have brought 
about undreamt-of events, I have not thought it improper to 
address you, although you may be inclined to regard it as an 
audacity on my part to do so. 

Some of your recent utterances regarding Italy's relations 
with Abyssinia have greatly shocked the whole civilised world. 
People have indeed characterised them as outrageous, arbitrary, 
inhuman, immoral and irreligious. You seem to be following the 
policy of the proverbial lion in its relation with the lamb. Irritated 
at the Ethiopian King's declaration that "his country would not 
lightly tolerate foreign aggression, but would defend itself to 
the utmost", you have been reported to have entered a strong 
protest. But pray, on what canon of morality or statecraft is 
your action based ? Might I enquire what you yourself would 
have done under similar circumstances ? Is it not the bounden duty 
of every man to defend his motherland from foreign onslaughts ? 
Is not the king of a country Responsible to God and man for the 
protection of his fubjects? Would it not be sheer cowardice and 
extreme dereliction of duty to surrender one's State and its people 
to an ambitious foreigner? Does not your protest against such a 
natural, honourable declaration tend to show that the statesmen 
of Europe are losing % all sense of right and justice, and are 
falling back upon the savage principle of "Might is right" ? The 



SOME LETTERS 187 

world will watch with keen interest what notice the League of 
Nations takes of such an outrageous "protest." 

You seem to be relying too much upon your large army and 
your abundant armaments ; and you are flushed with the idea of 
an easy victory. Need I remind you that Napoleon acted and 
behaved exactly in the same way when he was out for world 
conquest. What actually happened need not be repeated. Is a 
similar cataclysm impossible in the present days of unanticipated 
floods, devastating earthquakes and violent pestilence? If God 
wills it, all your armies and armaments may vanish in a minute. 
Would you not do well to remember all this ? 

You look down upon the Abyssinians as "savages" and 
"barbarians", according to the ideas prevalent in Europe. In 
our country, on the contrary, those are regarded as savages and 
barbarians who do not scruple to kill innocent people and plunder 
their property in order to satisfy their greed under the plea of 
"colonisation". To us such unscrupulous and greedy people are 
no better than those looters and dacoits whose crimes are con- 
demned throughout the civilised world. 

You have asked if the League of Nations is to be the 
tribunal before which "Negroes and savages and backward races 
can arraign the great nations which have revolutionised and 
transformed humanity." You seem to betray here utter ignor- 
ance or deliberate disregard of ancient history. Abyssinians 
knew the art of government and ruled over a powerful empire, 
which at one time extended even to far-off India, when Europe 
was still shrouded in ignorance, superstition and barbarism. If 
the Moors in Spain had not taught science and civilisation to 
the Europeans, God alone knows what place they would have 
occupied to-day among the comity of the nations of the civilised 
world. I have referred to this point in some detail in my 
articles on "Islam's Contributions to Science and Civilisation", 
published recently in some of the ^pglis*i magaziifcs and news- 
papers in India, a copy of which' is *enftn/ed in case you care ta 
peruse .it. Besides, disinterested people may feel inclined to 
demur to the characterisation of those people as "great nations"" 
over whom religion has so little influence, who are guided more 



188 UFB OF A. KARIM 

oy the fear of man than by the fear of God, and whose -out- 
standing achievements in the field of Science have been in the 
domain of arms and ammunition, explosives and poisons in short, 
of death and devastation rather than of peace and construction. 
If only their religion had sufficient hold on them and influenced 
their actions, the followers of Christ (who enjoins the turning 
-of the other cheek if one cheek has been smitten) would never 
liave been so very eager for the invention of death-dealing instru- 
ments and they would not have been always armed to the teeth 
for military expeditions. 

You have been reported to have said in a speech, "If 
^Europe is not still worthy to fulfil her colonising mission to 
the world, then the hour of her decadence is irrevocably 
sounded." Need I tell you that the old days are now irrevocably 
gone when on account of the chaotic circumstances prevailing 
in some of the countries of Asia and Africa, there might have 
been some justification for Europe's colonising policy; and 
times have now entirely changed. It is creditable to the 
British people who have been much more successful in their 
colonisation policy than any other nation that they have been 
wise enough to realize the spirit of the times and to have cried 
a halt to the policy of extending their colonies and have 
recently even been trying to train the people of their existing 
-colonies in the arts of self-government. Their efforts also to 
bring about a settlement of the Italo- Abyssinian crisis are 
being well appreciated throughout the civilised world. 

Europe, I think, has already fulfilled her colonising mission. 
If she pursues it still further, as desired by you, then indeed, 
I am afraid, the "hour of her decadence will be irrevocably 
.sounded.*' Your hope of "the Italian nation occupying a great 
place in the world" after "making a great effort" seems 
doomed to remain unfulfilled. 

God's ways are in^orfy|5ble. It does not seem to be His 
will that world domin^fag |jower should remain in one country 
or in one nation for an indefinite period. The rise and ^fall 
of all the great Empires have a lesson for their successors. 
If they fail to profit thereby, their own doom is inevitable. 



SOME LETTERS 189 

Referring to Japan in a Presidential Speech which I had 
occasion to deliver in November 1934, I remarked, "Who can 
check the progress of a nation whose sons and daughters are 
animated by such a spirit ? It is this spirit of service and 
sacrifice that has made Japan, half a century ago a mere 
geographical expression, one of the greatest world powers of 
the day. If such a spirit continues, who knows that one day 
her ambition not only to dominate Asia, but to encroach upon. 
Europe, like the Huns of old, would not be fulfilled?" Little 
did I think that in my own lifetime an occasion would ever 
arise for Japan to meddle in Europe's affairs. The sympathy 
that Abyssinia's helpless condition and your own conduct seem 
to have evoked in the heart of Japan might sooner or later 
possibly sooner than later offer an opportunity for Japan's 
interference. You will be solely responsible for such an 
eventuality. 

The Muslims all over the world feel specially for Abyssinia, 
as this was the country which afforded shelter to the early 
Muslim converts whom the persecution of their idolatrous 
kinsmen drove to her hospitable shores. Besides, a large 
number of Abyssinian inhabitants are Muslims. Any mis- 
guided action on your part might conceivably cause such a 
conflagration in sympathetic Muslim countries as to precipi- 
tate a world war, with rejuvenated Turkey and possibly also 
Persia and Afghanistan etc., ranged on the side of Abyssinia. 
Also there might be such a reaction among the coloured races 
of the world at your high-handed action against an unoffending 
oriental nation as would make all future "colonisation" 
administration extremely difficult, if not impossible. As an old 
man of 72 I would be very sorry at such dire eventualities; 
and that is my main reason for writing to you so outspokenly 
on this subject. 

I hope you will excuse the liberty I have taken in address- 
ing you at such length on a delicate matter. 



CHAPTER X. 
AN AUTHOR. 

Maulavi Abdul Karim has the reputation of being a 
historian and an author of books on Islam. When in 
service he wrote on historical and educational subjects 
and since his retirement he has written some useful books 
on religious subjects. 

While he was a teacher of history in the Calcutta 
Madrasah, Hunter's History of India was the text-book on 
Indian history for the Entrance Examination of the 
Calcutta University. As it was too difficult for ordinary 
students to learn, Maulavi Abdul Karim was requested 
by his pupils to write its epitome and he published a well- 
written epitome. The candidates for the University 
examination were much benefited by it as testified to by 
the distinguished linguist, the late Mr. Harinath De. 

History of India for Beginners. As there was no 
good history of India in English for the middle classes of 
high English schools, Maulavi Abdul Karim wrote his 
"History of India for Beginners". It was approved by 
the Education Department and was adopted as a text- 
book by many high English schools in Bengal and Bihar. 
Its popularity may be gauged from the fact that twenty- 
four editions of it had to be published from 1892 to 1930. 
Its style was so much liked by the students that some of 
them were heard to recite passages from it thirty and even 
forty years after they left school. 



AN AUTHOR IQI 

History of India in Urdu. It was brought to Maulavi 
Abdul Karim's notice that there was no suitable history 
of India in Urdu for schools. When his Urdu history 
was published it met with unexpected public approval. 
It was reviewed very favourably by all the well-known 
Urdu newspapers in India the "Afzalul Akhbar" of 
Delhi, the "Azad", the "Karnamah" and the "Anjuman- 
i-Hind" of Lucknow, the "Zamana" and the "Kaistha 
Conference Gazette" of Cawnpur, the "Agra Akhbar" 
and the "Akhbar-i-Islam" of Agra, the "Kohinoor" of 
Lahore, the "Shaukatul Islam" and the "Mulk and 
Millat" of Hydrabad and the Urdu newspapers of 
Rawalpindi, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Gorakhpur and other 
places. Besides, the renowned Urdu scholars of the time, 
such as the late poet Altaf Hossain Hali of Panipat, 
Shamsul-ulama Shibli Nomani of Aligarh, Shamsul- 
ulama M. Zaka Ullah of Delhi, Shamsul-ulama Syad 
Imdad Imam of Patna, Khan Bahadur Muhammad Shad 
of Patna, spoke highly of the book. It was prescribed 
for Middle Examination in some of the provinces and in 
the Nizam's Dominions, and seventeen editions were 
published from 1896 to 1936. 

Maulvi Abdul Karim published a school history of 
India in Bengali and Hindi also. His "Bharat Barsher 
Itihash" in Bengali was adopted as a text-book by a large 
number of schools in Bengal and it had 27 editions up to 
1930- The Hindi edition was a text-book in Bihar 
schools for some years and there were two editions of 
the book. M. Abdul Karim wrote in collaboration with 
his friend, the late Rai Saheb Ishan Chunder Ghosh, a 
"School History of India 11 . It was selected as one of the 



IQ2 LIFE OF A. KARIM 

historical text-books for the Matriculation Examination 
by four of the Indian Universities, including that of 
Calcutta. 

"Bhcuatbarshe Mussalman Rajatter Itibritya". This 
book was well-received by the public. Most of the 
Bengali newspapers of the time the "Bharati", the 
"Hitaishi", the "Education Gazette", the "Bardwan 
Sanjibani", the "Hitabadi", the "Mihir Shudhakar", the 
"Rangpur Dik Prakash" published very good reviews. 
The "Indian Mirror" remarked, "Mr. Abdul Karim is by 
birth and attainments eminently fit for compiling a history of 
India (so far as the Mahomedan period is concerned) which he 
has undertaken. The introductory portion treating of the life 
and doings of the Prophet and his immediate successors will be 
found invaluable by Bengali students " 

"From what I have seen of the book, I find that it is written 
in a style that is elegant and easy, and in a spirit that will make 
it acceptable to all classes of readers. The book is no doubt a 
valuable contribution to Bengali literature." 

GOOROO DAS BANNERJEE, 
(Judge of the Calcutta High Court). 

"As the first book of its kind which is not a mere translation 
of English text-books and which is written for a more advanced 
class of readers than school boys, the book will be a valuable 
addition to our Bengali literature. It will supply a real want. 
It is hoped that it is but the beginning of a great effort, which, 
apart from all literary considerations is sure to have far-reaching 
moral and social effects." 

RAMENDRA SUNDAR TRIVEDI, 
(Premchand Roychand Scholar). 

"Hints on English Pronunciation". Requested by 
several school masters, who knew that M. Abdul Karim 
had made a special study of the subject, he published his 



AN AUTHOR 193 

" Hints". It was reviewed in complimentary terms by 
the "Indian Mirror", the "Bengali", the "Daily Post , 
the "Weekly Chronicle" and several other newspapers. 
The "Statesman" in its review pointed out certain in- 
accuracies and M. Abdul Karim referred the matter to 
the Editor of Chambers Twentieth Century dictionary 
and he received the following reply 

"We are glad that you are able to recommend our dictionary 
for use in schools under your care, and are confident ifs merits 
are such that you will never regret that course. 

With regard to the word "palmist" the usual pronunciation 
at one time was pal-mist and that is the pronunciation still in 
vogue among many educated people, and is given by Dr. Murray 
as the preferable one in his monumental English Dictionary. As, 
however, Dr. Murray recognises pa-mist as an alternative pro- 
nunciation, and, moreover, that form of the word is also heard 
on the lips of educated people, we are following Dr. Murray's 
example and giving the alternative pronunciation as an addition 
to - the one already given. With respect to the words "attempt" 
and "contempt," we are again supported by Dr. Murray, who 
gives the pronunciation of the one as at-temt, and of the other 
as "kon-tempt." 

"Hints on Class Management and Method of Teach- 
ing". This book was dedicated to the school masters 
"on whose efficiency and devotion" wrote M. Abdul 
Karim "mainly depends the moral and intellectual pro- 
gress of the country." It was looked through by Mr. H. 
Sharp, Mr. R. B. Ramsbotham and Rai Saheb Isan 
Chander Ghosh, who made valuable suggestions for its 
improvement. The second edition was thoroughly revised 
and much enlarged. It was used as a book of reference 
in different places in India. Sir Alfred Croft wrote from 
England "I approve of your 'Hints' and think them 
likely to prove of great 'use both to teachers and to young 
13 



194 WFK OF A. KARIM 

oflicers beginning the work of inspection. They show 
careful observation and sound thought on the matters of 
your daily work." 

Reference has already been made to M. Abdul Karim's 
"Muhammadan Education in Bengal." His "Primary 
Education in Bengal" and Letters on Hindu-Muslim 
Pact were considered very useful by those for whom 
they were intended. 

"Islam's Contribution to Science and Civilisation." 
This was the first book of its kind. Poet Rabindranath 
Tagore was pleased to favour M. Abdul Karitn with the 
following "Foreword": 

"One of the most potent sources of Hindu-Moslem conflict in 
India is that we know so little of each other. We live side by 
side and yet very often our worlds are entirely different. Such 
mental aloofness has done immense mischief in the past and 
forebodes an evil future. It is only through a sympathetic under- 
standing of each other's culture and social customs and conven- 
tions that we can create an atmosphere of peace and goodwill. 
With this end in view I started a few years ago a department 
of Islamic Culture in Visva Bharati with the generous financial 
support of His Exalted Highness the Nizam. I am glad to say 
the experiment has been successful. But work of this sort must 
be elaborated a hundred fold. Individual educationists and 
scholars must also take it up and as such I heartily welcome the 
series of articles from my distinguished country man, Maulvi 
Abdul Karim, on Islam's contribution to Science and Civilisation. 
The writer has clothed his erudition in as simple a garb as 
possible and the book should have great popular appeal. It is 
with pleasure that I commend the book to my countrymen." 

-/ The following are some of the opinions on the 
brochure : 

"Articles from your pen have a worth of their own and I 
confess they have always a peculiar "fascination for me. The 



AN AUTHOR 195 

two sister communities which are destined to live side by side 
in India and can never think of severing from each other how- 
ever much their differences may be, do in fact know very little 
of each other. A mutual understanding is really all that is 
necessary to cement them together, and for that end this booklet 
of yours will be of priceless value." 

(SiR) MANMATHANATH MUKERJBE, 

(Judge, Calcutta High Court.) 

"I have read it with great interest. As the modern educated 
man knows so little of the past services rendered by Islam, your 
brochure should prove to be of considerable utility." 

(SiR) S. M. SUUIMAN, 
(Chief Justice, Allahabad High Court.) 

r 

"Many thanks for your interesting booklet "Islam's Contri- 
bution to Science and Civilisation." It is a thought-provoking 
publication and will, I am sure, prove useful not only to Muslims, 
but also to non-Muslims. 

I greatly appreciate your Islamic sentiments and the solid 
work you have been doing. I have been greatly impressed by 
your open letter to Signor Mussolini which is a faithful and true 
expression of the nobility of your heart. 

I hope and pray you will live long to do the constructive 
work you have taken in hand and to be one of the very few 
Muslims, who feel for their community and country." 

(NAWAB SIR) ABDUI, QAIUM, 
(Minister of Education, Frontier Province.) 

This brochure has been translated into Malayalam 
and permission has been given for its translation into 
Burmese. 

Pfophet of Islam and His Teachings. This is a short 
life of the holy Prophet of Islam. His work as a religious 



*9 I,IFB OF A. KARIM 

reformer, as a social reformer and as an educational 
reformer has been described. Besides, how Islam was 
propagated peacefully, without the use of force, and what 
undreamt-of progress it has already made, spreading over 
the whole continent of Africa and a large part of Asia, 
and a movement being on foot to Islamize Europe and 
America, has been described in some detail. Moreover, 
one chapter has been devoted to non-Muslim opinions 
about Islam and its Prophet the opinions of Gibbon, 
Carlyle, Goethe, Isaac Taylor, Bernard Shaw, Guru 
Nanak, Raja Rammohan, Mahatma Gandhi and others. 
The appreciative reviews published by a large number of 
magazines and newspapers, such as the Light, the 
Mussalman, the Amrit Bazar Patrika, the Advance, the 
Tribune, the Hindu, the Hindustan Review, the Kashmir 
Times, the Federated India, the Islamic Culture, the 
Bombay Chronicle, the United India and Indian States, 
the Young Builder, the Comet of Nigeria, show that the 
book has met with public approval. Besides the opinions 
quoted below a number of other eminent personages such 
as the Maharajadhiraj of Bardwan, Sir Manmatha Nath 
Mukherjee, Maharaja Sir Mattmatha Nath Roy Chaudhury, 
Rai Bahadur P. C. Dutt, Sir Abdul Qadir have expressed 
appreciative opinions. 



5, Outram Street, 
10th February, 1936. 

"I was on ray sick-bed when your kind present "Prophet of 
Islam" came. It was refreshing as the breeze of heaven and 
I read the book through without a stop. I could not wish for 
i better tonic. I congratulate you on your beautiful presentation 
of Islam simple, sincere and devout. It was a joy to me to 



AN AUTHOR 197 

refresh my mind with the story of the Prophet's life and his 
teachings, My wife is now reading the book." 

(SIR) B. It. MITTBR (K.C.S.I), 

(Ex-l/aw Member of the Viceroy's Executive Council 
and Advocate-General of Federal Court). 

Lahore, 27th March, 1936. 

It is refreshing in the midst of the sectarian wrangles with 
which the Muslims are generally occupied, to come across a 
noble attempt, such as the one made by Maulavi Abdul Karim 
Sahib, in writing a beautiful booklet entitled "Prophet of Islam 
and his Teachings". It presents to the common reader a bird's 
eye view of the life of the Holy Prophet and the various reforms 
brought about by him. Books of this type are the greatest need 
of the day, as by clearing misunderstandings about Islam they 
do a useful service to the cause of humanity. 

(Maulana) MUHAMMAD Aw, 
(Renowned translator of the Quran). 

Many thanks for your "Prophet of Islam and His Teachings." 
This is a very opportune publication. 

The teachings of the Prophet are often misconstrued and 
misapplied. A correct interpretation of them will go a good 
way towards removal of misunderstandings and communalism. 

I commend your little book both to the Moslems and the 
Hindus. 

May your noble efforts bear fruit. 

(Sir) P. C. ROY, 
3-6-36. 

Hyderabad, Deccan, 6th March, 1936. 

Please accept my hearty thanks for sending me your book 
"The Prophet of Islam and His Teachings." Your clear and 
straightforward presentation of the essentials of Islam, freed 
from the non-essentials which really provoke unnecessary and 
harmful controversy, is admirably suited to give Muslims a 



igS UFB OF A. KARIM 

correct idea of Islam and of its universal nature while creating 
a sympathetic understanding of our faith among non-Muslims. 
Such publications are bound to advance the cause of unity in 
India. Your book should be in the hands of every *young man 
in the country irrespective of the community to which he belongs. 

AHMAD HUSSAIN, 
(Nawab Aminjung). 

This is an excellent epitome of the life of the Prophet and 
an erudite exposition of the spirit of Islam within a small com- 
pass. Permit me to congratulate you warmly on the achievement. 
I hope the book will have a very wide circulation, especially 
among non-Muslims in India whose profound ignorance of the 
life of the Prophet and the true spirit of Islam, is largely respon- 
sible for communal troubles. It would be an excellent thing 
if the book could be prescribed as a text-book in all high English 
schools in India. I hope it will be translated into all the import- 
ant vernaculars in India before long. 

GHAZANFER Au KHAN, (C.I.K., O.B.E., I.C.S.), 
(Retired Divisional Commissioner, 
Central Province). 

"Islam, a Universal Religion of Peace and Progress" 
is Maulavi Abdul Karim's latest work on Islam. The 
following quotation from it will indicate the nature of its 
contents : 

"Belief in the existence of a Supreme Being with supernatural 
powers and performance of duties of love and obedience to Him 
is what is generally understood by Religion. Of all the handi- 
works of God man is the masterpiece. He is an amalgam of 
divinity and brutality. By developing the divine element in his 
nature man can elevate himself to the loftiest plane of morality 
and spirituality; and by allowing unrestricted scope to the deve- 
lopment of the germs of evil in him he may lead himself to 
the lowest depth of degradation. Thus while by developing his 
unlimited moral and spiritual , potentialities man may excel the 



AN AUTHOR 199 

angels and approach the borders of Divinity, by giving free rein 
to his carnal passions he may drag himself down to a much 
lower level than that of brutes." 

The brochure has been translated into Urdu and 
Bengali and permission has been given for its translation 
into Chinese and Malayalam. On requisition from China, 
Japan, Burma, England and America copies have been 
sent to those places. Orders are being received for its 
supply from various parts of India. Excellent reviews 
are coming from different persons of which only a few 
are given below. 

". . . . This little work of yours has taught me many things 
which I never knew before. How much do people misunderstand 
things out of ignorance and what lamentable consequences follow. 
May you have many more years of health and happiness to 
expound the true principles of Islam and further the cause of 
peace and progress." 

(SiR) MANMATHA NATH MUKERJBE, 
(Acting L,aw Member, Viceregal Council). 

". . . . Allow me also to tender you my hearty congratulations 
on the way you have chosen for the utilisation of your energies 
and resources at this advanced stage of life. It falls to the lot 
of few to devote themselves to noble objects. May God grant 
you long life and vigour and health to carry on this work. 1 * 

MOHAMMAD YAQUB KHAN, 
(Editor of the Light). 

"The present pamphlet sustains the high level of thought 
and composition that characterises all your writings. Besides, 
these writings of yours are presented to the public in a very 
opportune moment, when the need for Hindu-Muslim unity is 
felt by all well-wishers of the country. This intercommunal 
unity 'and harmony can be best attained by mutual appreciation 
of culture and a better understanding of -the lives and teachings 



200 Um OF A. KARIM 



of our Prophets and Scriptures. To this end your clear thinking 
of the high ideals and noble achievements of Islam, as presented 
in these writings, will make a very valuable contribution." 

S. C. ROY, 
(Principal, Cotton College, Gauhati). 



"Islam, a Universal Religion of peace and progress, will clear 
many a misunderstanding about Islam and contribute in no 
small measure towards peace and harmony. I shall preserve it 
as a valuable possession.*' 

(SIR) ABDUI, HAUM GHUZNAVI. 
(Member, Legislative Assembly, Central). 



"I have read your 'Islam A Universal religion of peace and 
progress* with very great interest indeed. You have brought out 
the various aspects of Islam in an admirable manner." 

(SIR) S. M. SULAIMAN, 
(Judge, Federal Court of India). 



LIFE OF MAULAVI ABDUL KAR1M. 

"Perhaps no apology is needed for reviewing a book which 
apparently deals with the life-story of an individual perton. Maulvi 
Abdul Karim is no mere individual ; he haa been an institution in the 
life o! Muslim Bengal for the last quarter of a century or more. 

Life stories of men who contribute in some way or other to the 
advancement of their fellow-men are the greatest asset of humanity. 
They are so many mile-atones, as it were, along the road of human 
progress. Every living people, realising the value of these, have 
eoihrined the memories of these workers in the cause of the nation in 
the hearts of the coming generations. Among the sister-Hindu 
comm unity , My Experiment* wuh Truth, recording the life-story of 
Mahatma Gandhi and My Auiobtoprapiiy, the life-story of Jawaharlat, are 
two such attempts. Tm Sermnts of Goct, setting forth the struggle of 
Khan Abdul Ghaffar "Khan and his brother is a Congress publicity 
publication intended to serve the same purpose. The L</t of Maulet 
Abdul Karim should serve the same purpose and inspire the coming genera- 
tions of Muaalmans, particularly in Bengal, with the same fervour for 
the service of Islam and Musalmans as characterised the whole life of 
Mftulvi Sahib. Maulvi Abdul Karim has made an endowment worth 
Rs 50,000, with an annual income of Rs 2, 500 for the cause of Muslim 
education and Islamic missionary work. This is a great thing. A 
retired Inspector of Schools cannot be expected to be a millionaire. 
To dedicate the hoarding of a life-time for the advancement of fellow-men 
and of truth is a great thing. But by far the greater of Maulvi Abdul 
Karim's legacy is the riches of traditions of devotion and service extend* 
ing over a life-time that he is leaving behind. That to otr mind Is 
the greatest of all endowment*. 

It ia on traditions auch as these traditions of a burning faith, of 
unflagging devotion amd service that thje foundations of * nation can be 
laid strong and secure. One Hitler has saved Gtrmanj and at one 
stroke put her on the van of world powers. Bat take the case of 
the Jews. Not all hoarded millions or wits could save them from 
ignominy. There art scores of MusHm Piiuoet and hundreds of 
Muslim Nawabs ia India Bat if Islam can em hope to crow into